The Société de transport de Laval says it recently tabled yet another proposal for arbitration with its drivers, who are currently involved with the STL in an extended labour dispute.
In a statement issued last week, STL management noted that over the past two years, 34 negotiation sessions took place with drivers’ union representatives, in addition to a recent closed-door negotiation session between the two sides in the dispute.
“The STL deplores and has difficulty understanding why the union has refused this solution which would have resolved the current impasse,” the transit agency said. “This situation which continues is needlessly harming the clientele as well as efforts by the organization to get public transit up and running again.”
The STL maintains that it has been acting in good faith throughout the process, modulating its offer on several occasions while also withdrawing a large part of its initial demands in order to concentrate on the main issues, and respecting the financial reality.
“It should be emphasized that public transit has been severely impacted by the pandemic these last two years, and more recently during the Omicron wave,” the STL said. “This situation caused a significant drop in ridership and an important drop in revenues for most public transit agencies in the metropolitan region.”
Bus drivers’ union says Mayor Boyer has a ‘closed door policy’
In a statement issued on Feb. 10 by the Syndicat des chauffeurs de la STL (CUPE 5959), the bus drivers’ union confirms that negotiations with the Société de transport de Laval (STL) have bogged down.
While public transit planning within the Montreal Metropolitan Community “has been a resounding failure and the social climate demands a drastic change in mobility,” add union officials, “the Laval bus drivers’ union has expressed great disappointment over the mayor’s refusal to meet with them.”
“What angers union members even more are the reasons why Laval’s new mayor, Stéphane Boyer, doesn’t want to meet with the president of CUPE Quebec, Patrick Gloutney and union representatives,” stated union president Patrick Lafleur.
“Members of the executive did meet with Boyer back on August 19, 2021 when he was running for mayor at the time,” Gloutney continued. “Unfortunately, public transit does not rank high up on the new mayor’s list of priorities. If that were the case, he’d be talking with the people concerned to find sustainable solutions to ensure effective public transit service in Laval.”
Gloutney said “the mayor’s lack of openness comes at a time when negotiations with the union have gotten quite difficult. The 635 bus drivers, who have been without a contract since July 2019, are determined to renew their collective agreement in good faith.”
He said that talks have bogged down, particularly over insufficient wage offers from the STL, “which, in these inflationary times, will mean greater poverty for the membership. The latter have struck for five days to date, the last time back on December 19, 2021.”
He said the atmosphere in terms of labour relations and at the bargaining table continues to deteriorate, while noting that at a mediation session the day before, “employer’s representatives did not see any purpose to using all of the time allotted to respond to the union’s proposal, even though committee members had come out in good faith to get a negotiated settlement between both parties.”
Gloutney said “the ball is now in the employer’s court,” while maintaining that the union “is hoping to receive a satisfactory wage offer.”