The union says about 2,200 GO Transit workers will strike starting Monday morning
The Canadian Press
Posted Sunday, November 6, 2022 6:14 PM EST
Last updated Sunday, November 6, 2022 7:53 PM EST
Commuters across much of southern Ontario may find themselves looking for alternative transportation after the union representing 2,200 GO Transit employees announced members would be walking off the job starting Monday morning.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587 released a statement on Sunday saying it was unable to secure a new contract with Metrolinx, the operator of regional transit service covering much of the Greater Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe.
The strike, which will involve bus operators, station attendants and other employees, is expected to start at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Metrolinx said bus service will be suspended in light of the walkout, although trains will remain in service and stations will be open.
ATU Local 1587 President Rob Cormier said bargaining talks broke down due to safety concerns over hiring contract workers from outside companies.
“Negotiations failed because Metrolinx failed to come to the table with a reasonable offer to address one of our key issues,” he said in the union’s statement. “Protections against subcontracting are imperative to ensure experienced workers are on the job to operate GO Transit safely and efficiently. Without these protections, Metrolinx may contract with outside companies that will hire inexperienced workers in precarious, non-union positions.
Metrolinx released a statement saying the union pulled out of weekend negotiations and declined a request to return to the table on Monday. Anne Marie Aikins, the company’s head of media and public relations, said the transit operator was optimistic they could sign a new deal after offering dozens of ‘improvements’ to the convention collective.
Aikins acknowledged ATU’s concerns about hiring outside workers, but maintained the company has measures in place to keep everyone safe.
“For 22 years, we have had language in the agreement that protects the job security of our ATU employees,” she said in a statement. “This longstanding protection will continue to protect existing staff as well as new hires joining Metrolinx.”
Aikins encouraged customers to plan ahead, allow extra time for trips and stay informed of strike developments through GO Transit’s website and social media accounts.
The ATU said negotiations with Metrolinx began in April and the members had been working without a contract since June 1.
He said 81% of members voted against a contract offer from Metrolinx, a move Aikins has previously described as disappointing. She said on Sunday the company remains “open to discussing ways to move forward” with the union.
The GO Transit strike comes three days after thousands of Ontario education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees walked off the job indefinitely. The ATU said it supports these workers.