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Grand River Transit talks break off with no new progress: union

A Grand River Transit bus travelling eastbound on King Street West beside the Grand River Hospital ION LRT station in Kitchener. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Waterloo Region and Unifor Local 4304 returned to the bargaining table on Wednesday but the union says no progress was made towards a new deal.

In a statement, Unifor says the region was unwilling to make any more concessions.

“We can’t bargain with ourselves, it will take movement from the employer to reach a fair deal that responds to the issues driving this dispute,” Unifor Local 4304 president Tim Jewell said. “Transit workers have difficult jobs and are seeking respect and fairness from our employer.”

Unifor says that no new talks are currently scheduled between the two sides.

The region announced the news of the meeting on Wednesday morning on Twitter while adding, “we are hopeful an agreement can be reached, transit services can be restored to the community and our employees can return to work.”

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READ MORE: All you need to know about Grand River Transit bus strike

Grand River Transit’s first strike began less than 48 hours after union members voted to reject a deal their bargaining team had tentatively reached with Waterloo Region on Jan. 13.

That deal came to fruition just hours before Unifor Local 4304 members were initially set to strike.

On Monday, Jewell told Global News that member’s concerns over the bargained agreement included three components: financial, safety and discipline.

READ MORE: Striking Grand River Transit employees rejected pay increase, safety barriers, Waterloo Region says

Jewell did not want to go beyond that as he said he did not want to bargain in the media at that time.

The region released some terms of the deal that was rejected Tuesday morning as the strike got underway.

It said the proposed deal included a six per cent wage increase over three years for bus operators, dispatchers and service attendants and 15 per cent over three years for mechanics.

READ MORE: Grand River Transit bus drivers reject contract proposal, to begin striking Tuesday

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Later in the day, the region also said it had offered to install safety barriers on all buses.

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