Transit union optimistic about contract talks
Published Tuesday, December 23, 2008 5:28PM EST
The head of the Amalgamated Transit Union says he's feeling positive after contract talks between the city and the union broke off for a break Tuesday afternoon.
Andr� Cornellier told CTV Ottawa the two sides are going back to the bargaining table at 5 p.m. and will stay there for "as long as it takes."
Union vice president Randy Graham added if an agreement is not reached Tuesday night, he is prepared to work Christmas day to hammer out a deal.
The union's optimism is a change in tune from the message Cornellier gave striking workers prior to the beginning of Tuesday's talks, when he said he didn't want to give anyone false hope that a deal was within reach.
High spirits on the picket line
Spirits were also high among striking workers who took down picket lines Tuesday morning when they were told to go home for the holidays.
"They're at the table talking. They have the media blackout, which I think is excellent because nobody can play with the words then. And, hey, Christmas is miracles -- so let's hope," bus driver Jim Smith told CTV Ottawa.
News blackout still in effect
A news blackout remains in effect as the two sides work together to hammer out a deal that would end a two-week transit strike that's caused havoc in the nation's capital.
The key issue of the dispute is control over driver scheduling, which OC Transpo management wants to take back from drivers.
The development in negotiations on Tuesday comes one day before striking workers will receive their last pay cheque, something many drivers say they're worried about.
"(A resolution) would be the ideal Christmas gift. And a resolution that we can all live with, something that's going to work," Smith told CTV Ottawa.
"The contract's going to last another two years, so let's get something really good that we can build on."
Is an end near?
Once a resolution is reached, it will take two days to get OC Transpo buses up and running along main routes and four to five days for the entire system to be fully operational.
If no deal is reached, the city says it will go to court Wednesday to prevent striking workers from setting up planned picket lines outside Lansdowne Park on Boxing Day, which would disrupt traffic heading to the Civic Centre to take in the World Junior hockey tournament.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Nicole d'Entremont