City will lock out Guelph transit workers, suspend services

The City of Guelph has decided to lock out its transit workers and suspended traditional transit services after members of ATU Local 1189 voted against the city's final offer on Friday night.

The City of Guelph and Guelph Transit have decided to lock out their employees and suspend services after transit workers voted 186 to 12 against the city's final offer on Friday night.

At 12:01 on Monday morning, buses will stop running and workers will be locked out until the labour dispute between the city and members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1189 is resolved.

In an update, the city says it "believes it has exhausted all traditional negotiation options" and that "this is the only course of action that can lead to a fair contract that balances competitive compensation for employees, fair rates for transit customers and long-term affordability for Guelph taxpayers."

Guelph transit workers have been without a collective agreement for over a year and, although bargaining with the city began in October 2013, negotiations came to a standstill after 22 sessions.

After bringing in a provincially appointed conciliator, the city requested a no board report, which put it in a legal lock-out position and the union in a legal strike position. 

On June 26, the city presented its transit workers with a final offer, which included wage increases and no change to employee health and medical benefits. As of July 1, 2013, employees would receive a wage increase of 1.7 per cent; in 2014, an increase of 1.6 per cent; in 2015, 1.6 per cent; and in 2016, 1.5 per cent.

Although the city called its offer "fair and equitable," 94 per cent of the votes cast between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Friday were opposed to it.

"This round of bargaining was not about the wage increase. It's about our working conditions. It's about being treated with respect," said ATU Local 1189 president Andrew Cleary, although he wouldn't elaborate on why the city's deal was not enough for the union. 

Cleary wants to return to the bargaining table, but there are no scheduled negotiation dates at the present time.