Near-unanimous vote sets stage for Gatineau bus strike

Gatineau's public transit workers voted on Sunday with more than 98 per cent in favour of a strike.

Syndicat uni du Transport could strike within 60 days with 72 hours of notice

The public transit workers' union in Gatineau, Que., received a strike mandate in a vote held Sunday. (Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada)

Gatineau's public transit workers voted on Sunday with more than 98 per cent in favour of a strike.

The vote allows the union, Syndicat uni du Transport Local 591, to strike within 60 days if they give 72 hours of notice.

Deteriorating working conditions and scheduling are some of the issues the union is struggling with, it said. After the vote, union president Félix Gendron said he was proud of obtaining a strong mandate to put pressure on their employer, Société de transport de l'Outaouais, or STO.

Negotiations continue.

In 2008, an OC Transpo strike in Ottawa lasted for two months after the Canadian Industrial Relations Board ruled it would not force workers to return to work since transit wasn't deemed an essential service.

On Dec. 19, 20 and 21, the STO will try to determine whether it's an essential service in order to avoid workers walking off the job. Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pednaud-Jobin has said he believes it's indispensable.

The STO employs 485 drivers and 115 people who maintain the buses.