(Tuesday, February 14, 2012) – Halifax Regional Council has chosen conciliation over arbitration in the ongoing labour dispute with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508.
“Council had a good debate, and decided to work with the head of Conciliation Services for the Province of Nova Scotia, who was appointed to the transit issue today,” said Mayor Peter Kelly. “We need a solution that gets our transit system moving again, but we need to get that solution at the bargaining table.”
More than 700 members of Local 508, including bus operators, ferry workers, mechanics, and others, walked off the job Feb. 2. A resumption of bargaining on Feb. 8 resulted in an impasse over the key issue of shift scheduling. Halifax Regional Municipality is seeking to introduce rostering, a change to the current shift scheduling practice in an effort to better align shifts with workers and curb excessive overtime. The difference between HRM’s position and the ATU’s position, inclusive of wages and savings from rostering, is $6.7 million.
The Mayor said binding arbitration would open taxpayers to unknown cost risks at a time when Metro Transit needs to curb overtime expenditures and improve operational efficiencies and prepare for future service enhancements.
Metro Transit customers are advised to check the Metro Transit portion of the HRM website at www.halifax.ca/metrotransit for updated information. Information will also be shared by @hfxtransit on Twitter and through the HRM call centre at 490-4000.
Metro Transit is the primary transportation service provider in HRM and the largest transit system in Atlantic Canada, comprised of over 300 buses and 3 ferries. In addition to its conventional fixed route system 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.