Locked-out unionized workers at Acadian Bus Lines voted Sunday to accept a tentative deal, bringing an end to the five-month-old contract dispute.
The work stoppage has halted intercity bus service in New Brunswick and P.E.I. since December.
"I'm happy it's over," said Glen Carr, the president of the union. "We have 92 per cent in favour of the company offer. Today is a new day, we move forward from here."
Carr said workers hugged each other and shed tears when the final vote was counted.
"Five months is a long time to be out."
Carr said there were three key issues — seniority, pensions and sick leave — that kept the two sides apart for so long.
"Money was the last thing on the table. We weren't out for money. We were out for working conditions."
'Today is a new day, we move forward from here.' — Glen Carr, union president
He credits the company's decision to hire a vice-president of the Maritimes, Denis Gallant, who came in with a fresh outlook and swiftly came up with an offer.
"This gentlemen was instrumental in our talks. I am prepared and our members are prepared to stand behind him 100 per cent."
The question now is how the business will be affected by the prolonged dispute. Carr expects the routes to be up and running again within two weeks. But the company said last week that many of the employees have moved on to find other work and it's not clear how many will return to Acadian Bus Lines.
"Most of all, the public should be happy this is over and we can get back to a normal life again," said Carr.