Moncton locks out Codiac Transpo drivers and mechanics
Moncton has locked out Amalgamated Transit Union 1290 bus drivers, service workers and mechanics, which means Codiac Transpo bus service will halt starting Wednesday.
The city said in a statement that the decision was made following approval from Moncton City Council.
The move will suspend service "indefinitely" the city said Tuesday night.
"Codiac Transpo service will only resume once a settlement with the union has been reached," the statement said.
"The city feels this is the only way to force both parties back to the negotiating table and work towards a settlement," a statement posted on the Moncton website said.
The statement said officials felt it "makes more sense to suspend service now, when the weather is nicer and it’s easier for people to get around."
Mayor George LeBlanc said the council considered the decision carefully and regretted the inconvenience caused to Codiac Transpo customers.
"We know that the decision to shut down Codiac Transport will be difficult for people who rely on this service. We are truley sorry," he said.
Paul Thomson, a city spokesperson, said in an interview on Wednesday that he was sorry for the inconvenience that the dispute will have on citizens.
"We want to apologize to Codiac Transpo customers this puts them in a very difficult situation and a huge inconvenience. And we would also ask employers to be lenient with their late employees arriving late today, as a result of not being able to get a bus this morning ," he said.
The city announced on Twitter on Wednesday morning that it would help residents get to their destinations.
"Stranded at a bus stop? Call 857-2008 and we'll send a taxi to you at the city's expense," the city said on Twitter.
Kyle Greer was waiting to catch his bus at Highfield Square on Wednesday morning when he learned that the buses weren't running.
"I was a little disgruntled to be honest. I was kind of thinking to myself, 'Oh man how am I going to get to work? How am I going to get to and from?'" Greer said.
"And also just thinking about all the people out there who take the transportation to and from work because a lot of people can't constantly be feeding money on taxi cabs."
George Turple, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1290, said he found out about the lockout at about 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. He said he was shocked because he expected at least 24 hours notice.
Turple said he wants to see openness and good faith on the part of the city before going back to the bargaining table.
Dispute over wages
The lockout is an escalation of a series of service reductions in the contract dispute.
The city has been cutting routes and cancelling service because it says it doesn't have the staff to cover shifts.
Wages remain a sticking point in the contract dispute. The city's last offer to the transit workers contained a 13.75 per cent wage increase over five years.
That deal would have been retroactive to July 2010 and it contained improved health and dental benefits. The city’s offer would have brought a bus driver’s annual salary to $51,000 in 2015.
By comparison, the union was asking for a 23 per cent wage increase over five years.
That would have brought a Codiac Transpo bus driver's annual salary to $55,120 in 2015, according to the city.