Halifax Regional Council last ratified the Tentative Agreement between Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 508 and Halifax Regional Municipality, effectively creating the parties’ new, five-year collective agreement and ending the Metro Transit strike that began February 2, 2012.
“On behalf of Council, I’m very pleased to tell residents that buses and ferries will be running as soon as we can get them ready,” said Mayor Peter Kelly. “Council’s steady direction allowed the bargaining team to get a settlement that is affordable to taxpayers and supports efficient transit. We believe the deal is fair to employees while achieving significant cost savings and operational efficiencies, and we thank the ATU for helping us find a way to get transit rolling again.”
The new collective agreement includes a wage package worth $14.5 million over five years as well as efficiencies and offsets that will save $8.9 million, for a net increase of approximately $5.6 million (or 3%) on the Metro Transit wage budget over the five-year term. In year one, the wage package has a one-time, lump sum payment of $4,000 in place of a percentage increase that is non-compounding and is one part of a negotiated wage settlement. The deal also includes a Memorandum of Understanding between ATU and HRM on how rostered scheduling will be implemented with input from ATU, and full wage steps for new operators. Full details follow this release.
Mayor Kelly commended Council for maintaining its decision to not pursue binding arbitration that could have left the future of public transportation in unaccountable, third-party hands, and also the HRM bargaining team for getting a deal with a total cost not greater than that of HRM’s February 23, 2012 package offer.
“Council told our bargaining team to be creative and we could not have secured this deal without Mayor and Council’s ongoing support from the beginning,” said Eddie Robar, Director, Metro Transit. “While it’s been a long, difficult time for everyone dealing with the various impacts of the transit strike, the operational efficiencies and financial benefits in the new agreement support management’s stewardship of our public transit system for years to come.”
Mr. Robar said Metro Transit recognizes everyone experienced hardships during the strike. “We never forgot about our customers and operators, and our commitment to provide reliable service,” he said. “Today’s agreement will go a long way toward helping us keep that promise, and we should have ferries operating by Thursday this week and regular bus service back on the road on Friday, March 16.”
As part of the agreement, Regional Council approved a recommendation to provide free public transit from the first day back in service through to Saturday, March 31, 2012, and to allow Metro Transit customers who still hold a February 2012 transit pass to use it for transit services during the month of April 2012.
HRM will also still provide refunds up to Friday, March 30 for anyone who purchased a February 2012 transit pass and were unable to use them due to the ongoing transit strike. Visit www.halifax.ca/metrotransit for more information on redeeming February passes.
More information on the timing of HRM’s return to full transit service and other customer updates is available through www.halifax.ca/metrotransit; Twitter @hfxtransit; Transit Retail Outlets; and, the HRM Call Centre at 490-4000.
Metro Transit is the primary transportation service provider in HRM and the largest public transit system in Atlantic Canada comprised of over 300 buses and three ferries. In addition to its conventional fixed route service, with 61 routes including the premium MetroLink and MetroX services, it operates three Community Transit routes, the harbour ferry service and the door-to-door Access-A-Bus service for persons with disabilities.