New Brunswick

Acadian Lines talks fail to resolve dispute

The weekend negotiations between Acadian Lines and the Amalgamated Transit Union failed to resolve the contract dispute that has halted bus service in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island for more than two months

Acadian Lines and the Amalgamated Transit Union failed to resolve a contract dispute that has halted bus service in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island for more than two months during a round of contract talks over the weekend.

Both sides met on Saturday and Sunday for the first time since the lockout began on Dec. 2 and spent about 27 hours in discussions with a federal mediator.

The union says it was prepared to stay longer, but the company left the talks at about 11 p.m. on Sunday. 

The company says limited progress was made during the negotiations and it feels the two sides are still far apart.

"After two days spent in negotiation this weekend, we are very disappointed to report that while limited progress was made, the parties are still far from an agreement," according to a statement from Acadian Lines.

"In fact, we feel that there is a lack of seriousness and willingness to resolve the issues on the part of the union. No dates are set to return to the table."

Acadian Lines is still saying it needs to make changes to its organization and how it assigns drivers in an effort to lessen its financial losses.

"We know that these gains alone will not allow us to reach profitability but they are an important component of an overall effort we need to do collectively to turn things around if we hope to keep offering this important service in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island," the statement said.

According to the company, Acadian Lines lost around $2 million operating buses in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island last year. The company said it lost more than $7 million in the last eight years.

No dates are set to return to the bargaining table.

There has been no inter-city bus service in New Brunswick since the work stoppage began. As well, there has been no bus service between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

This is not the first round of negotiations to fail to produce an agreement.

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

At that time, Acadian Lines was offering a contract with no pay increase over the next five years, according to the union. The union wants at least a cost-of-living increase.

The company presented a last-minute contract offer to the union on Nov. 25. However, the workers voted 88 per cent against the deal.

Acadian Lines still runs in Nova Scotia because the company's employees in that province are part of a different union.

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