Countdown to possible HSR bus strike begins

ATU Local 107 is warning transit users to expect "significant delays" to service unless the city and HSR workers and agree on a contract before midnight on Dec. 18. After that the union will be in a position to begin a strike or job action.

Wages continue to be a sticking point in negotiations, says union head

HSR workers will be in legal strike or lockout position starting Dec. 19 unless the two sides can agree on a contract. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Hamilton's bus drivers are one step closer to a strike.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 107, which represents drivers, mechanics and other transit workers, has been working with the city to reach a contract settlement since February.

In a statement released Monday, the city says those negotiations have been unsuccessful.

Now Ontario's minister of labour has released a "no-board" notice, starting the countdown to a strike or job action as early as 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 19.

ATU Local 107 president Eric Tuck says the two sides have been able to agree on several issues, including washroom breaks, but haven't been able to settle on wages.

"Currently we are about $3-4 less an hour than other transit properties in the GTA," he explained.

The city's statement says it "remains hopeful that a negotiated settlement can be reached."

If that doesn't happen, Tuck said "anything is possible" after the midnight deadline passes on the Dec. 18.

"I think it would be safe to say there will be some kind of disruption starting on the 19th," he added, saying job action such as refusing to work voluntary overtime will lead to "significant delays in service immediately." 

Details about any impacts on service will be shared on the city's website before any disruptions.