Mayor George LeBlanc is urging the union representing 90 bus drivers, mechanics and service representatives at Codiac Transpo to reach a deal with the city and avert a potential strike that would shut down public transit in Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview.
The city and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1290 failed to reach a new contract during weekend negotiations with a mediator.
The union has voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action but the two sides are still attempting to hammer out a new contract.
Moncton’s mayor said the union only has to look to the Acadian Lines lockout and the work stoppage in Halifax to see that job action has not helped other bus drivers in the region.
"We've seen the impact of a lockout at Acadian Bus Lines, where they've been locked out since November or December, a long transit strike in Halifax resulted in a wage increase of 2 per cent per year plus a cash signing bonus," he said.
Wages are a key sticking point in the talks. Bus drivers earn $21.50 an hour but the union is asking for $26.50 an hour, which would be roughly $55,000 a year. That's more than what bus drivers in Halifax will earn.
The city has offered $24.60 per hour, which would be close to $51,000 a year.
More than 700 Metro Transit workers in Halifax were on strike for 40 days before reaching a new deal with the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Acadian Lines locked out its 59 workers in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island on Dec. 2. Acadian Lines has repeatedly said it needs to make reforms to its service to stop its financial losses.
The potential transit strike became an issue at Monday night’s council meeting in Moncton.
Karen Haley presented her petition, which included roughly 1,000 signatures, that called for a quick settlement in the Codiac Transpo dispute.
Haley uses the bus to get around Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview.
She said she's worried about losing that service if the bus drivers act on their threat to go on strike.
"So I've been out for three days collecting signatures. I have over a thousand signatures from people who need the bus service and people are going to lose their jobs."
Haley's message was received by the mayor. LeBlanc said he understands Haley's concerns.
"We do not wish a strike either, it's bad for everyone," LeBlanc said.