New Brunswick

Acadian Lines lockout worries students

A looming lockout at Acadian Bus Lines has some university students in New Brunswick worried about how they're going to get home for the holidays.

A looming lockout at Acadian Bus Lines has some university students in New Brunswick worried about how they're going to get home for the holidays.

Acadian plans to lock out its employees in New Brunswick and P.E.I. on Friday at 6:30 a.m. and some services are expected to end Thursday night so passengers won't end up stranded enroute when the lockout starts.

The move comes after the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1229, which represents the 59 bus drivers, mechanics, maintenance workers and customer service representatives in the two provinces, announced plans to go on strike Friday.

The shutdown would interrupt intercity bus travel in the two provinces, as well as between Nova Scotia and Upper Canada because the buses won't be able to travel through New Brunswick, the union has said.

Mark Livingstone, the student union president of St. Thomas University, said many students rely on the bus service.

"There aren't very many other options," he said. "If you're unable to find a ride with a friend or family member or own your own vehicle, air travel in the Maritimes is pretty expensive and we don't have rail transportation here in Fredericton."

Cindy Levesque, a student at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, hopes that Acadian won't be off the roads for long.

She wants to spend her holidays at home with family in Eel River Crossing, near Dalhousie.

"If Acadian Lines decides not to work on Dec. 17, then I have no way of getting home for Christmas," she said.

Acadian officials have said significant progress would need to be made with the union before operations resume.

The workers gave their 72-hour strike notice on Nov. 23, but talks were quickly scheduled for Nov. 24 to prevent a walk out.

The company presented a last-minute contract offer to the union on Nov. 25. Workers voted 88 per cent against the deal, with union president Glenn Carr calling it "insulting."

Talks had previously broken down in October and workers voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action.

At that time, the company was offering a contract that was worth zero per cent over the next five years, according to Carr.

The union wants at least a cost of living increase, he has said.

Workers have been without a contract for about 10 months.

The pending shutdown will also affect parcel delivery during the holidays. 

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