School bus drivers in Winnipeg School Division are officially on strike just as some students are heading back to class amid already uncertain times.
The strike began at 7 a.m., confirmed United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 832 Tuesday.
“This morning we will be scheduling and assigning picket line shifts. Drivers will walk the picket line starting tomorrow,” according to a statement from the union.
The strike of 90 drivers will impact about 2,300 students who rely on the bus system to get to and from school.
Chris Broughton, chair of the Winnipeg School Division (WSD), told 680 CJOB Friday the dispute wasn’t a problem that would be solved over the weekend, and parents should expect a disruption.
“They have a right to strike and they’re exercising their right, and we’re going to continue to be available to negotiate should they want to come back to the table,” Broughton said.
“Unfortunately, we have no further room to move.”
Broughton said the division feels the final offer was fair, but the UFCW says its something drivers can’t live with.
Winnipeg School Division posted on their website last week that parents should make “alternative arrangements for their child(ren) to get safely to and from school, and to report any absences in the usual manner.”
Winnipeg School Division spokesperson Radean Carter told 680CJOB Tuesday students with wheelchair needs will still be bussed.
The division is putting together before and after school care, to begin next Monday, for students whose parents are able to drive their kids to school.
Some students will also be offered virtual learning, said Carter.
The issue is wages, confirmed both Carter and UFCW. Bus drivers in the division have been without a collective bargaining contract since June of 2019.
Winnipeg School division has offered drivers raises of 0 per cent, 0.75 per cent and 1 per cent over the next four years, as mandated by the province, added Carter.
Carter said busing was already a concern with physical distancing restrictions in place.