Buses running Thursday: Tentative agreement with union averts HSR strike

The union representing HSR workers is hoping to have its tentative deal with the city ratified by Christmas.

The union representing HSR workers hopes to ratify the deal with the city by Christmas

The deal was announced just 90 minutes before a strike could have begun. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The union representing HSR workers is hoping to have its tentative deal with the city ratified in time for the holidays.

Bus drivers, mechanics and other transit workers represented by ATU Local 107 were in legal strike or lockout position as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

But just before 10:30 P.M Wednesday, the city announced a last-minute, deal had been reached. Because the union negotiating team is recommending the deal be accepted, the city said there would be no labour disruption.

"It's been a long haul," said Local 107 president Eric Tuck. "We've been almost a year at the bargaining table so we're happy we finally got a conclusion to this long, drawn out negotiation."

Details of the agreement will only be released after the union membership votes on the deal and ratifies it.

Tuck said the bulk of bargaining was spent addressing washroom issues, including access and making sure drivers had "time to get out of the seat and use them."

The last few days were spent working out monetary issues, including wages and the president said thanks to some give and take on both sides a deal was reached.

In a statement transit director Debbie Dalle Vedove thanked HSR customers for their patience and understanding during the bargaining process.

"I'd also like to express my appreciation to all of our staff at HSR for their commitment to transit and for working to maintain this vital service for our residents," she said. "Through this process, we have worked collaboratively with ATU 107 on our shared focus to improve transit services for the future and I am optimistic we can continue working together to make transit the first choice for residents in Hamilton."

Tuck also thanked bus passengers for their support during the process.

"We're not only fighting for our members we're fighting for them as well to have a better service, more reliable and dependable and I believe this contract is going to help deliver that," he explained, adding the union plans to distribute details of the deal to members tomorrow.

"We're going to try and get it ratified before Christmas."