Codiac Transpo lockout ends

The union representing locked out Codiac Transpo workers and the City of Moncton ratified a new deal on Friday, bringing an end to the five-month-long dispute.

Union voted 91% in favour of deal, Moncton council vote unanimous

Codiac Transpo' buses could be back on the road within three weeks, city officials have said. (CBC)

The union representing locked out Codiac Transpo workers and the City of Moncton ratified a new deal on Friday, bringing an end to the five-month-long dispute.

Partial bus service will resume as soon as possible, definitely before Christmas, city officials said.

Details about the new routes and schedules have not yet been released, but the new service will include more frequent routes, reduced travel times, and an improved transfer system, according to a statement from the city.

The city will also be able to expand or reduce routes, based on customer demand.

The 9.2-year collective agreement includes an average annual increase of 2.58 per cent.

"I feel absolutely great," said George Turple, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1290.

"I couldn't feel better, it's finally over," he said.

The union voted 91 per cent in favour of accepting the deal on Friday morning.

Moncton council voted unanimously in favour during a special meeting held Friday afternoon.

"We’re extremely happy to have achieved a negotiated settlement that allows us to rebuild the system and ensure stability and labour peace for a longer time," Mayor George LeBlanc said in a statement.

"Now, the City and ATU 1290 can put this dispute behind us and focus on rolling out a better, more efficient transit system for everyone," he said.

A key component of the new contract is language changes that will allow Codiac Transpo to be more efficient and cost effective, said LeBlanc.

It will be able to guarantee more hours for casual drivers, reducing the amount of overtime for permanent drivers and reducing the amount of re-bids for shifts and open shifts, he said.

"This has been a trying situation for everyone involved, but now that all the details have been ironed out, we need to put these difficult labour negotiations behind us and work together to make the system better," the mayor said.

Getting ready to roll

City officials have said buses could be back on the roads within two to three weeks.

The city is in the process of recalling workers, with mechanics expected to be back on the job as early as Saturday, said LeBlanc.

The buses have been repaired by third-party mechanics and certified during the work stoppage, but Codiac Transpo mechanics must now inspect that work, identify and fix any other problems and deem the buses safe before they can be put back on the road, he said.

 Drivers will also have to go through re-orientation and be trained on some route changes.

The two sides reached a tentative deal to end the lockout on Tuesday.

Moncton locked out about 80 bus drivers, mechanics and service people on June 27 with wages being a key stumbling block.

The city’s previous offer would have paid Codiac Transpo drivers $52,000 a year by 2017. The union had been holding out in hopes of being paid $60,000 per year by 2018.

Both sides have already agreed to annual pay hikes that would bring the bus drivers' salaries to $51,000 a year by 2017, up from $44,000.

The transit workers have been without a contract since 2010.

Codiac Transpo operates in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.