Codiac Transpo talks fuel hope of lockout's end
Moncton and Amalgamated Transit Union resumed contract talks on Sunday
Community groups are closely watching the latest round of contract talks between the City of Moncton and its locked out transit workers to see if an end to the lockout is in sight.
The two sides in the long-running bus dispute returned to the bargaining table on Sunday night and the city issued a statement saying it would not comment further on the talks.
The transit workers have been locked out for five months, which has caused a major inconvenience for residents who rely on the buses to get around the greater Moncton area.
Lucien Sivret, a member of the Moncton Transit Citizens Action Group, said he is confident the latest round of bargaining may actually yield results.
But he said the lockout has been hard on many citizens in Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview.
He said he’s even heard about people moving away from the community because of the lack of buses in the last five months.
"Even people that actually had to quit their jobs because they couldn't afford to pay the bills and to go to work, so they have to find something closer or find something closer to family members that actually have rides to give them," Sivret said.
The bus lockout has also had a negative impact on seniors, according to one advocate.
Cecile Cassista, a Riverview town councillor and the executive director with the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Homes Residents Rights, said some seniors, who in the past relied on the bus system, have been missing medical appointments because they can't afford a cab.
"The big concern I have is that they're basically going to shelter themselves because winter is coming they're not going to want to go out and that is a big concern so the sooner that they resolve the issue it'll be better for the community."
The city is offering to pay Codiac Transpo drivers $52,000 a year by 2017, but the union had been holding out in hopes of being paid $60,000 per year by 2018.
Both sides have already agreed to annual pay hikes that would bring the bus drivers' salaries to $51,000 a year by 2017, up from $44,000.
The transit workers have been without a contract since 2010.