Winnipeg Transit drivers won’t ask riders to pay Thursday amid escalating tensions with city

By | June 26, 2019

Bus drivers on Thursday won’t ask riders to pay in an act of defiance toward the city and its failure to negotiate a fair deal, says the union representing transit operators.

“We’re taking this step because the City of Winnipeg isn’t listening to our proposals and isn’t showing a willingness to bargain in good faith,” Aleem Chaudhary, ATU 1505 President, said in a statement Wednesday.

Drivers won’t enforce fare payment Thursday, including during the anticipated rush toward Investors Group Field for the Bombers’ home-opener.

The move is the latest step by the union — which represents 1,400 mechanics, drivers and other Winnipeg Transit workers — amid escalating tensions between it and the city.

Its the second time in just over a month riders won’t enforce payment; they did so on May 14.

The union said it and the city are “still quite far apart,” citing city plans to bring in more part-time operators at lower wages without benefits or pensions, and an unwillingness to have riders represented on internal decision making committees.

The city has also refused to entertain setting standards for operating schedules, the union said, which make transit “increasingly unreliable” for riders and operators. 

“Frankly, our members and the riding public deserve better from our city,” Chaudhary said.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 president Aleem Chaudhary. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

At the end of May, union members voted 96.9 per cent in favour of rejecting a four-year deal. It was the latest of two proposed deals — which the city characterized as a fair, reasonable, “final offer” — and the rejection stoked fears of a possible transit strike on the horizon.

A few days later the union banned its members from taking on voluntary overtime.

Less than two weeks after that, the union brought in the international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union from Washington, D.C., to advise the local contingent on its negotiation strategy.

Winnipeg Transit workers haven’t gone on strike since 1976.

CBC News has requested a response from the city.

More from CBC Manitoba: