Over 2,000 GO Transit workers to strike Monday despite weekend negotiations

The union representing around 2,200 GO Transit bus operators, station attendants and other employees says workers will go on strike at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, despite negotiations over the weekend, The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587 says it was unable to secure a contract with GO operator Metrolinx.

“Negotiations have failed because Metrolinx failed to come to the table with a reasonable offer to address any of our key issues,” Local 1587 President Rob Cormier said in a statement Sunday evening.

Read more: More than 2,000 GO Transit workers set to strike beginning Monday: union

Key issues include job security and job safety relating to hiring contract workers from outside companies, according to the union.

It’s accusing Metrolinx of refusing to budge on those issues during the most recent round of talks.

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“Projections against contracting out are imperative to ensure that experienced workers are on the job running GO Transit safely and efficiently. Without these protections, Metrolinx can contract to outside companies which will hire inexperienced workers in precarious, non-union positions,” said Cormier.

The union says Monday’s job action comes after members voted 81 per cent against a previous contract offer.

“We have been bargaining in good faith for more than seven months with the aim of avoiding a transit stoppage, but I cannot say the same of Metrolinx’s negotiators,” Cormier said.

“Even in these final hours, the company did not offer a single serious proposal on priority issues. We strike only as a last resort, but the company’s stonewalling tactics have left us no choice,” he said.

Metrolinx said they’re “disappointed” to advise GO Bus customers that service will not operate, effective tomorrow.

“The ATU Local 1587 walked away and declined our request to continue discussions tomorrow,” Metrolinx said in a statement to Global News.

“Having already proposed over 67 enhancements to the collective agreement that would improve working conditions for our ATU employees, we entered the negotiations this weekend optimistic that a deal could be reached.”

Metrolinx also said they remain open to discussion at the bargaining table.

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“For 22 years, we have had language in the agreement that protects the employment security of our ATU employees. This long-standing protection will continue to protect existing staff as well as new hires joining Metrolinx,” the statement said.

The ATU strike comes only three days after 55,000 CUPE education workers also walked off the job Friday.

“This union-busting crown corporation has been given its privatization mandate by the same government that is revoking Charter Rights for CUPE workers,” said ATU International President John Costa in a statement Sunday.

“Our Union and our members at Local 1587 are fed up with the disrespect Metrolinx has shown them. We had hoped it wouldn’t come down to this for our riders, but our Union has been down this road with strikes. We will stand with our brothers and sisters on the picket lines until we win,” he said.

According to Go Transit’s website, there will be no GO bus service should a strike take place.

However, trains will continue to operate.

Buses that begin their trip before midnight on Nov. 6 will complete their trip, “in the event of a strike,” GO Transit said.

But buses scheduled to begin after midnight on Nov. 7 will not operate.

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GO Transit’s trains and buses serve an area of over 11,000 square kilometers and provide services to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, according to its website.

It began operation in 1907 and carries more than 70 million passengers a year.

GO Transit merged with Metrolinx in 2009.

With many Canadians bound to be impacted, post-secondary institute McMaster University in Hamilton has warned its students, faculty and staff to make “alternative arrangements,” if they normally take the GO bus.

“Everyone is encouraged to be kind to others, flexible and considerate of the impact this will have on our students, faculty and staff who use the GO bus to commute to campus,” the university said in a news release Sunday evening.

The University of Guelph also put out a similar update for their students.

York Region Transit (YRT) assured its riders they won’t be affected in a tweet Sunday.

“In the event of a potential GO Transit bus strike on Nov. 7, all YRT services will continue to operate as normal,” the transit operator said.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

&© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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