The head of the Amalgamated Transit Union says he feels "vindicated" after Ottawa city councillor Clive Doucet broke ranks and stated he felt the mayor misled him on the issue of scheduling.

"We couldn't understand why Council was acting the way it did - until now. We weren't in those closed meetings, but Mr. Doucet has confirmed the people who are making the decisions have shown they are out of touch with what's going on," Andr� Cornellier said in a prepared release.

Union speaks out about scheduling

The union says council needs to understand why scheduling is important to drivers and why it remains the main sticking point of a public transit strike that's caused more than one month of commuter headaches.

"The important part that everybody needs to understand is that under the proposals by the city, we would be forced up to as much as a 16-hour spread in our day, which means we would start in the morning, do a piece of work, let's say from six, and they could force us to go as late as 10 o'clock at night," said Craig Watson, a union member selected to discuss the scheduling issue.

"Now, the odds are they wouldn't say 10, but it's going to be 8:30 or nine o'clock, which is going to ruin everybody's family lives, they're not going to have time to spend time with their family and it's very important to us."

When asked if the union would make some financial concessions if scheduling was taken off the table, Watson told CTV Ottawa drivers already took a blow economically when both sides agreed on the current scheduling package in 1999.

"We gave up the economic part of our contract to get the current scheduling package that we have. So, we've already paid for that package once already. Why would we give up any raises right now, to get the same thing that we already gave up once for?" said Watson.

Union meets with mediator

Meanwhile a federal mediator met informally with union vice president Randy Graham and a city representative on Tuesday. Although the parties discussed some of the issues at hand, no new talks are scheduled.

Still, a spokesperson for CanMediate International says co-operating with the federal mediator may be the only hope in resuming talks.

"Enough is enough," said Ruth Sirman, who says both sides need to stop feeling like the victim.

The renewed efforts to get both sides back to the negotiating table come after the Amalgamated Transit Union voted 75 per cent in favour of rejecting the city's latest contract offer in a federally ordered vote on Thursday.

More than 2,300 OC Transpo drivers, dispatchers and mechanics walked off the job Dec. 10, after working without a contract since April.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem and Vanessa Lee