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Oakville Transit workers on strike, February 17

Update — Friday, March 4, 7:04 a.m.: The strike has ended and OT buses have resumed regular service today, Friday, March 4.

The Town of Oakville and Unifor Local 1256, which represents Oakville Transit drivers and maintenance workers, have been negotiating a new collective agreement to reach a fair and balanced settlement. However, after reaching a tentative agreement last week, the union notified the town Sunday night that its members did not ratify the settlement and have given notice of strike action as of 5 a.m., Thursday, February 17.

No regular Oakville Transit bus service or Home to Hub service will be available to passengers as of Thursday morning. OT’s specialized care-A-van service will continue to operate — but for dialysis appointments only.

According to a Town news release, the collective agreement with the union local expired January 31. “It is not unusual for labour negotiations to continue past the expiry of a collective agreement and contract negotiations between the town and the union had been ongoing,” the release explains. “The union and the town’s bargaining teams reached a tentative settlement on February 8. The tentative settlement was recommended to the members by the union’s bargaining team, however union members unexpectedly rejected this settlement in a ratification vote on February 13, and have indicated that strike action will begin on Thursday.”

“We are extremely disappointed that Unifor members have turned down a fair and reasonable settlement after bargaining in good faith, and left just 72 hours to let the public know about a strike. The town remains prepared to meet with the union to reach a resolution and get Oakville Transit services back on the road,” said, Phoebe Fu, the Town’s Commissioner of Community Infrastructure.

However, in rejecting the tentative agreement, the members of the local showed their disagreement with the Town’s position. “No one should be surprised that these essential workers at Oakville Transit are frustrated and rejected the company’s offer,” said Tim Mitchell, Unifor National Representative. “The issues on the table are both monetary in nature as well as related to working conditions, at a time of uncertainty, with COVID fatigue and high inflation.”

In its own news release, the local states that members are seeking wage increases to reflect inflation, more sick days and better language [in the agreement to improve employment] for casual workers.

“Our drivers have worked tirelessly through the pandemic providing reliable public transportation,” said Alice Kelly, President of Unifor Local 1256. “It’s no surprise they’re frustrated and they’ve voted to give notice that they are more than willing to exercise their right to strike.”