No end in sight for Ottawa transit strike
Published Friday, January 23, 2009 11:15AM EST
Although both sides of a public transit strike in the capital have held informal discussions with federal mediators, there is no word on whether a deal to end the strike is in the works.
Both sides have agreed to a media blackout until a settlement is reached.
Meanwhile, federal Labour Minister Rona Ambrose says the government won't introduce back to work legislation to get buses back on the roads.
Ambrose says it's up to the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union to get back to the bargaining table and hammer out a deal themselves.
Residents want strike to end
In the meantime, many Ottawa residents say they just want an end to the 44-day-old transit strike that continues to limit their ability to get around town.
"I can't do anything. Everywhere I go I need to walk, so I can't afford to take a cab everywhere I go. I'm just not making that much money -- it's a hassle, it's a nuisance, it really sucks," said OC Transpo rider Sinath Lun.
"I'm a little tired of regulation I've been going through. Usually, I'm in at 7 a.m. and off at 4 p.m., but because of the traffic and all that, I've asked my supervisor to give me the chance to start at 6 a.m. and be off at 3 p.m., so I'm not stuck in traffic," added Michel Laviolette.
Strike cancels church, light rail discussions
The strike has also forced the Karen Baptist Church near Maitland Avenue to cancel its prayer service.
Most of the church's congregation takes the bus. As a result, the afternoon Sunday service has been cancelled since December.
The strike has also cancelled public hearings to discuss the future of light rail in the capital.
Meanwhile, the Canada Industrial Relations Board continues to study whether OC Transpo should be declared an essential service.
Although the board has received more than 3,000 public submissions since Jan. 2, a board spokesperson says there is no timeline for a final decision.
A demonstration to draw attention to the transit strike is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday on Parliament Hill.
Community advocate Catherine Gardner says she wants MPs and city council to see the faces of those suffering because of the bus strike.
On Wednesday, city council approved an additional $500,000 to help Ottawa's most vulnerable residents deal with the strike.
The city continues to encourage anyone who requires assistance to call 3-1-1.