Saskatoon

Saskatoon gives lockout notice to transit union

Saskatoon bus service could come to a halt Saturday night. The city has served notice of a potential lockout to the union representing bus drivers and other transit staff, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, 615.
City of Saskatoon has served a notice of lockout to the Amalgamated Transit Union, 615 (ATU). (CBC)
Marno McInnes, Saskatoon's director of human resources, announced plans to lock-out bus drivers, effective on Saturday. (CBC)
Saskatoon bus service could come to a halt Saturday night. The city has served notice of a potential lockout to the union representing bus drivers and other transit staff, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, local 615.

City officials said the move comes after 11 months of negotiations for a new collective agreement.

According to the city's director of human resources the lockout notice was carefully timed.

"Transit Union delays ... move us closer to freezing temperatures when our customers could be left out in the cold,” Marno McInnes said Thursday. "Taxpayers and transit customers need us to act now to resolve this."

McInnes said the city was facing an "urgent financial issue" relating to costs for transit workers' pension plan.

Officials stressed that the transit union was the only city bargaining unit affected by the lockout notice. 

McInnes added they were hopeful that a last minute solution can be reached.

The deadline to reach a solution was set at 9 p.m. CST Saturday. The city urged transit users to have alternate plans in place for Saturday night, just in case.

The city said that Access Transit is an essential service and will continue operating as normal in the event of a lockout.

City council members not commenting

CBC News approached a number of members of Saskatoon city council Thursday, seeking their observations on the situation. However, as of 5 p.m. no council members were prepared to comment.

Meanwhile, Max FineDay, president of the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union, said the threat of a lockout was worrisome because many students rely on public transit to get to classes.

"This is unacceptable," FineDay said in a statement released Thursday. "The USSU urges Saskatoon Transit to offer fair, competitive wages for workers so we can end this nonsense and provide this necessary service."



Advocacy group formed for bus service

Within a few hours of the city's lockout notice, a group called Bus Riders of Saskatoon was formed to advocate for improved service.

The group issued a news release calling on both the city and the union to resolve their issues and avoid a disruption in service.

"Many industries and individuals will be heavily impacted by service disruption," Candace Northey said in the release. "Jobs and wages will be lost if people can't get to work."

Violet Laflamme, another member of the group, said in the release that she has already made changes in her life to deal with reduced bus service.

"At this point, after having already changed my employment due to transit issues, a total disruption in service would mean that I also couldn't get to my volunteering shifts for International Women of Saskatoon, because I couldn't afford to cab back and forth," she said.


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