York Region bus strike delays morning commutes

Morning commuters in York Region can expect a slowdown Tuesday due to labour action by picketing bus workers locked in a contract dispute.

Picketers demand better pay, binding arbitration

York Region transit picketers with the Amalgamated Transit Union stall buses as they roll out of the main depot in Vaughan Tuesday morning. (CBC)

Morning commuters in York Region experienced delays Tuesday due to labour action by picketing bus workers locked in a contract dispute.

Dozens of York Region Transit employees with First Student, Miller Transit and Viva were out in force starting around 5:30 a.m. at the Keele Street and Bowes Road bus garage in Vaughan.

The CBC's Colin Butler, reporting from the Veolia Southwest Division garage, said the strikers were marching in the rain and only allowing buses to roll out about every five minutes. Picketers had blocked both entrances.

"They say it might not seem like much, but you will feel it this morning," he said.

President of ATU Local 1587 Ray Doyle urged frustrated commuters to help them get the transit service back up and running by pressuring politicians to agree to meet them at the bargaining table.

One union organizer promised the disruptions were far from over.

"We're not just going to picket once in a blue moon. We're going to be out there. There will be more disruption, it will escalate," he said.

The picketers, who are members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, want better pay and are calling for the bus contractor, Veolia, to take the five-week-old labour dispute to arbitration.

The nearly 600 workers have been on strike since Oct. 24, and an estimated 44,000 people are affected by the strike each day.