Ottawa

Gatineau transit talks break down after union president suspended

With the threat of a bus strike looming, the union representing public transit workers in Gatineau has walked away from labour negotiations with the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) after its president was suspended.

STO workers voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike in December

With a potential bus strike looming, the union representing public transit workers in Gatineau has walked away from labour negotiations with the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO). (Radio-Canada/Michel Aspirot)

With a potential bus strike looming, the union representing public transit workers in Gatineau has walked away from labour negotiations with the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO).

The union announced Friday it was ceasing talks after disciplinary measures were imposed on its president, Félix Gendron, and other members of the union.

"I was suspended four days for doing my job as a union representative. I have never been subjected to disciplinary measures in my 26 years with the STO or in my 20 years with the union," Gendron told Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language service.

"Then all of a sudden, things aren't going the way the employer wanted and I get disciplined. Something's wrong."

In a statement, the STO did not say why the disciplinary measures were issued, but said it had nothing to do with the ongoing labour negotiations or union work.

Union president Félix Gendron says the STO is being cavalier in its response to the union's pressure tactics. (Radio-Canada)

In early December, transit workers voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike, which allows Syndicat uni du Transport Local 591 to strike within 60 days if it gives 72 hours' notice.

Both sides are currently awaiting a decision by the Canada Industrial Relations Board to determine whether transit services should be deemed an essential service in Gatineau. 

A ruling is expected before the end of the month.

The STO employs 485 drivers and 115 employees responsible for bus maintenance.

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