ATU president says he doesn't want another strike
Published Wednesday, March 2, 2011 5:35PM EST
The president of Ottawa's Amalgamated Transit Union says scheduling remains a key issue between the city and transit workers as the two sides try to come to a contract agreement; but at this point, the union boss says he's not in favour of another strike.
"I'm not in favour of any strike right now. I'm willing to negotiate with the City of Ottawa. I want to negotiate in good faith. I want to first of all finish the unfinished business from 2008. That's the major stumbling block right now," said newly-elected ATU president Garry Queale.
OC Transpo mechanics were meeting Wednesday to look at ways to resolve the ongoing problem of scheduling, which remains a key issue two years after the union went on strike.
Among recent concerns is the consolidation of OC Transpo maintenance garages. The changes have led to some long-time workers suddenly finding themselves working nights and weekends.
"The morale has hit bottom. It's the worst morale I've seen here in 33 years. You have people with 25-30 years of service going back working weekends," Queale said. "And yet the major things the city preaches: quality of life, quality of family time -- where's your family time when you spend 30-some years working here and now all of a sudden you're going back to work weekends."
He says part of the problem is mismanagement.
OC Transpo drivers and mechanics will be without a contract at the end of March. Both the city and union say they'll do everything they can to avoid another strike.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he hopes a new team at the bargaining table will help end sour relations.
"Anytime our employees are feeling unwanted, uncomfortable, that's not a good thing. That's why with a new transit commission, a new mayor, and new president of ATU my hope is we're going to turn the page," said Watson.
Queale is yet to meet with Watson or transit chair Diane Deans. However, he says he's looking forward to it.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua