Nova Scotia

Metro Transit workers rally in Grand Parade

Nearly 100 Metro Transit workers and users rallied in Grand Parade on Sunday afternoon, urging Halifax regional council to restart contract talks.

Call on HRM to return to bargaining

Metro Transit workers rallied in Grand Parade on Sunday, urging the Halifax Regional Municipality to get back to the bargaining table. (CBC)

Nearly 100 Metro Transit workers and users rallied in Grand Parade on Sunday afternoon, urging Halifax regional council to restart contract talks.

The workers have been off the job for 11 days, and thousands of users have had to find alternate ways to get around the city.

Just steps from Halifax City Hall, they expressed anger with the failure of negotiations with the city.

"Hey hey, ho ho, Peter Kelly's got to go," they chanted, as one worker hoisted an effigy of the mayor.

The issue of rostering, or scheduling shifts, is still the main stumbling block, Ken Wilson, with Local 508 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said.

But Wilson said he thinks the public is fed up with the whole thing.

"I think the public is tired of the issues. Regardless of whose side you believe — the employer or the union side — I think the public is actually frustrated because they can't catch a bus or a ferry," he said.

Adrienne Chalastra, who uses transit, is hoping there will soon be a break in the stalemate.

"It's definitely having a big impact on people. I know a lot of people are frustrated, and I think we need to put the pressure on the city to do what we can," she said.

As for any new talks, Wilson said his phone is on 24 hours, but he still hasn't received a call from the city.

The union walked out of a marathon bargaining session Thursday morning after the two sides in the Metro Transit contract dispute failed to come to an agreement.

 At the time, Wilson said there was no common ground after 20 hours of talks so there was no point in continuing.

The Halifax Regional Municipality said the union would not budge on its $8.8-million proposal.

The latest round of negotiations with a conciliator began last Wednesday, with the two sides presenting new contract offers to each other.

An estimated 50,000 to 55,000 people have been without bus and ferry service every day since the strike began Feb. 2.