Advertisement

Hamilton transit workers inch closer to possible strike

The union head says HSR workers are prepared to strike if necessary to get a fair deal.
The union head says HSR workers are prepared to strike if necessary to get a fair deal. CHML

The union for Hamilton transit workers has taken another step towards job action as it backs its contract demands.

The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107 has requested a “no board report.” Once filed, it triggers a countdown to job action, which could include a strike as early as Dec. 18.

READ MORE: HSR drivers, city still far apart on key contract issues, union says

The City of Hamilton and the union have been at odds over a couple of key issues: wages and appropriate bathroom breaks.

Local 107 president Eric Tuck says there has been some progress on washroom breaks, but the plan will take four or five years to implement.

The stumbling block is wages.

The union claims the average industry increase is two to 2.25 per cent.

Story continues below advertisement

The ATU says Hamilton pays its transit professionals $3-$4 an hour less compared to other transit properties in the GTHA, insisting the city has some of the worst working conditions by comparison.

READ MORE: Riders can now get free Wi-Fi on some HSR buses

Tuck says the union has “put an offer on the table which is for five years of one per cent below the market value. It keeps pace with inflation, but it isn’t overtaxing on the taxpayer. We hope that council will compromise the same as we have.”

The union head says the membership has approved a job action up to and including a strike, but Tuck says the last thing the union wants is a disruption in transit because ridership will be lost. He adds that it can take 10 years to get that ridership back.

Tuck says his members “are resolute in their demands of getting a fair contract that will recognize the cost of living and fair wages.”

The City of Hamilton has issued a statement saying it remains hopeful that a negotiated settlement can be reached.

Details about service impacts will be communicated extensively before a potential labour disruption occurs. All updates will be available on www.hamilton.ca/hsr as they become available.