Saskatoon

Lockout deadline looms for Saskatoon bus service

Residents of Saskatoon are facing potential transportation chaos with the city poised to lockout transit workers, a move that would leave thousands of bus users scrambling to find alternate ways of getting around.

Saskatoon poised to lockout workers at 9 p.m. CST Saturday night

The city of Saskatoon is poised to halt bus service with a lockout of transit worker set for 1 p.m. CST Sunday. (Submitted by Michael Morien)

Residents of Saskatoon are facing potential transportation chaos with the city poised to lockout transit workers, a move that would leave thousands of bus users scrambling to find alternate ways of getting around.

The deadline, set by the city, is 9 p.m. CST Saturday.

The possibility of a lockout was announced Thursday by city officials who said they were stuck in a negotiation stalemate with transit workers. The last collective agreement for bus drivers and other transit staff expired at the end of 2012.

The city claims a major sticking point has been the workers' pension plan which has a funding shortfall.

But Jim Yakubowski, president of local 615 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, told CBC News that the city's last offer, which was rejected by members, fell short in a number of areas.

"Ninety-one per cent of our members that voted stated very clearly that the offer was insufficient," Yakubowski said. "Our members are aware of what the issues are. Certainly pension benefits and ... a wage package that still would leave us at the bottom in comparison to other Western Canadian cities was insufficient."

On Friday management and union representatives spent the day in talks aimed at hammering out a deal. As of Friday night, the talks were put on hold and no further meetings were scheduled

The city says if there is no agreement by Saturday night, the lockout will take place.

When the city announced they had served notice of a potential lockout, the head of human resources said it was carefully timed to take place before winter set in.

The city's Access Transit service is not affected by the lockout notice.

The city is urging transit users to have alternate plans in place for Saturday night — and beyond — in case a lockout does take place.

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