Bus reliant students may soon find themselves stranded if the Amalgamated Transit Union 615 does not respond to a notice of lockout that the City of Saskatoon has served to them.
The ATU is required, as per the provincial rules for collective bargaining, to respond to the City’s notice of lockout within 48-hours. Should the union not respond, transit services will be suspended and bus users are recommended to make alternate travel arrangements well before 9 p.m. on Sept. 20.
Should services be suspended, Access Transit will continue operating in its regular capacity.
The notice of lockout comes after 11 months of collective bargaining between the ATU and the City of Saskatoon that did not result in a contract being agreed upon.
“The decision was difficult and not taken lightly, but we need a contract,” said Marno McInnes, director of human resources for the city, in a news release. “The financial position of the City and its General Pension Plan are at risk.”
As the ATU has not agreed to the General Pension Plan, which is subsequently facing a $6.7 million deficit. McInnes said that the delay will cost taxpayers $90,000 with every month that passes.
Within the contract proposed to the ATU, the City has offered a wage increase of 10 per cent over four years — from 2013 to 2016. The same wage increase has been offered to the eight other associations and unions that participate in the General Pension Plan, and they have all accepted a contract with the City of Saskatoon.
University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union President Max FineDay said that students rely on transit and will be left stranded should transit services be suspended.
“Students are disappointed, extremely disappointed, with how the city has been handing the whole issue of accessible transit for students. Ever since the reduced service was announced, on that Friday before the long weekend, students have felt that the city was communicating poorly, planning poorly and running transit services poorly,” FineDay said.
“Transit is supposed to be a service that students can rely on. That is why the USSU went into a partnership with Saskatoon Transit and provided students with the U-PASS. Now that we know that transit drivers may be locked out, students are left with few options to get to the university.”