TORONTO, Feb. 18 /CNW/ - A proposal by Amalgamated Transit Union to take
the York Region transit dispute to binding arbitration in order to
avoid a work stoppage has been rejected by Veolia Transportation.
A settlement reached late Sunday night between ATU Local 113 and Veolia
was rejected by the union's membership in a Wednesday vote. The parties
briefly returned to the bargaining table earlier today but talks broke
off when the company told the union it would not improve its offer in
The union then proposed that all unresolved issues be put in front of a
neutral arbitrator whose decision would be binding. Veolia refused,
leaving the union no option but to call a strike.
If Veolia does not improve its offer or agree to arbitration, a strike
will begin next Tuesday morning, February 22. It would affect York
Region Transit users in Vaughan and parts of surrounding communities.
"We are waiting until the long weekend is over in order to allow some
time for the company to reconsider its hard-line position," says ATU
113 President, Bob Kinnear.
"Veolia is simply afraid of arbitration because they know they would
lose," said Local 113 President Bob Kinnear.
"If they really believed their offer was fair, they would jump at the
chance to put it in front of a neutral third party. But they can do the
math and would rather inconvenience transit users than give up a small
portion of their massive profits that they send back to shareholders in
The union points out that Veolia charges York Region passengers the
highest fares in the Greater Toronto Region and receives higher public
subsidies - well over $4.00 per ride, on top of the $3.25 fare - than
any other GTA transit service.
"Despite charging passengers and taxpayers a total of nearly $7.50 per
ride, they pay their employees the lowest wages in the GTA. And not
just a bit lower - a lot lower," Kinnear added. The workers joined ATU
Local 113 last summer.
The starting wage of a Veolia bus operator is currently $16.55. It takes
five years to reach the top rate of $22.00 per hour, nearly 30 per cent
less than paid to Brampton, Toronto and Mississauga transit workers
doing the same jobs.
Wages, however, are only part of the reason Veolia workers rejected the
settlement, the union says.
"These are highly skilled workers who have great public
responsibilities. They are tired of Veolia management's daily
disrespect for both their work and their humanity," explained Kinnear.
"Yes, wages have to be improved but even that won't help long term
labour relations until Veolia's attitude towards its employees
"We hope that the people of York Region will understand that it is the
union that tried to avoid a strike but the company wanted one," Kinnear
Note: Bob Kinnear will be available for media interviews Saturday
SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113
For further information:
Laura Ziemba, 416-712-0412