By Ian Froese
The 41-day Metro Transit strike has come to a close after transit union members took a crucial step this afternoon in getting buses and ferries back up and running.
The union approved a tentative agreement by an overwhelming 88 per cent to try to end the more than five-week long transit strike. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 members were briefed of the deal by their executive at 10 a.m. before voting at the Halifax Forum.
The Halifax Regional Council met in-camera at 6 p.m. to decide whether to ratify the deal.
Halifax regional councillors voted just after 8 p.m. by a margin of 19-2 to accept the agreement.
The contract will run for 5 years, include a $4000 signing bonus and a two per cent raise for the next four years. New bus drivers will also have a lower starting salary.
The buses will be running by Friday, March 16.
All bus and ferry services will be free until the end of the month.
Ken Wilson, AUS president says that maintenance workers may begin working as soon as Wednesday morning.
Roy Daniels, a bus driver of four years, did not vote with the majority. He feels the city bought out the transit workers.
“I don’t agree with the rostering. I think we accepted it because of the $4,000 that they offered us, and that’s why it went through.
Daniels added the bus drivers’ ability to choose their own schedule, a major sticking point during negotiations, will still exist in this deal, but instead of daily flexibility for the workers, schedules must be made a week in advance.
He was also surprised at how supportive his union was of the deal.
“I was expecting it to be accepted, but I was expecting, like, a 60/40 split,” he said. “And a lot of guys thought that too, around 60/40. 88 per cent was high.”
Nearly 650 members of the union voted Tuesday.
Roy Daniels, a bus driver of four years, was among
the few who voted against the transit deal.