The last city council meeting, Shane O’Leary and his crew were escorted via security and placed in a private room, unable to sit in the gallery as a part of the public’s right to listen in on council meetings. Their rights were infringed upon with this action by the city refraining them from hearing the proceedings on the meeting pertaining to the 508’s contract with the city.
A rally was held this morning at 9:30 am at the union hall and drivers and some of the drivers family members walked along Wyse road and around the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth NS chanting, 2, 4, 6, 8 cut the crap and negotiate and status quo or the bus don’t go. The Amalgamated Transit Union has been trying to get the city to listen to the ATU about the proposed contract that the city has offered, without much headway on the city’s behalf of offering the option to contract out and privatize jobs within the ATU. Doing so would jeopardize many jobs within the union and this isn’t something the ATU will stand for and is the same issue that cause the last strike back in 1998 that lasted for 6 weeks.
Drivers marched with purpose getting many honks of support from many passing motorists and other bus drivers who were stalled in joining the meet or working.
Jason Munro and his wife Tara and their two children were there at the Dartmouth Sports plex terminal handing out flyers trying to muster more support while citizens were asking questions on whether the strike will happen or not, responses from some of the drivers were “This is a publicity stunt for Mayor Peter Kelly who will drag this negotiation out till the very end then he will cave and sit in front of the cameras after everything is all said and done and he will make himself look good for saving the city from the pending strike so that he can get re-elected this year. “
When VP Shane O’Leary was questioned on the pending negotiations his response was
“I have no idea if things will change as we can’t trust management to make the right decisions, with a 98.4% vote to strike due to the offer it’s the highest vote on an offer ever, and it’s one that’s being forced on us, we can’t take something like this, too many job are at risk.”
Driver Ryan Tanner stated he wasn’t too sure what Mayor Peter Kelly and the city were trying to do but he wasn’t happy with the results either stating “We just want to keep what we already have.”
Tony Tracy a representative from the Canadian labour congress encouraged all the drivers and anyone they knew to pass on the phone number to Mayor Peter Kelly’s personal cell and to text message him, at (902)222-9999 and while standing at the Holiday Inn about 130 drivers did just that! I’m sure our Mayor enjoyed all the messages.
After the rally and the drivers made it back to the union hall I questioned many of the local drivers and locals in the area, when asked what they thought about the city’s offer one driver stated “How do you spell PTTTTT?” others stated it was “insulting as there were NO negations, just demands, and that they were not supported by the management at all.”
One driver who will remain unnamed stated “Conciliations before negotiations means the city forced our hands and they wanted a strike” When one stops and thinks about it, if the ATU does strike then the city might save SOME money and they could use it to pay off the oval that they tore down last year but rebuilt this year. The thing is when the almighty dollar is really looked at pertaining to the strike with 90000 commuters using the services the city can’t cope with the extra vehicles that would end up on the road if the buses were to stop. Out of the 90000 commuters about 30000 will find drives or will drive, the city just doesn’t have the capacity to handle that many new cars for parking, not to mention that about 7% of those commuters are seniors, and 2% of those will not be able to make it to appointments and many will end up hospitalized costing the city approximately $15000 a day per senior who’s hospitalized!
Students would also be greatly affected with the stoppage of transportation to and from class. One student I spoke with at the dollar store where she works part time stated “If I lose my job I can’t pay for classes and if I can’t go to classes I can’t get a better job! Is the Mayor going to support me, because at this rate I’m going to have to claim welfare just to survive?”
Tonight at Grand Parade Square at 5 pm there will be another rally trying to show people that the drivers aren’t “uneducated, lazy or greedy” as has been posted in the forums in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, if anything the city council and our Mayor Peter Kelly are the ones being lazy and are making presumptuous grabs at privatization of our city’s transit services and bringing in more part time workers so they can save some money when in the long run he’s just jeopardizing his seat in council. MANY have stated if this strike happens they won’t be voting him back in because he cause this problem in the first place, besides who the hell wants to pay more in fares to a private company whose only goal is to turn out a profit? I’m sure no one in Halifax is willing to pay more in fees to travel; Halifax has one of the lowest per trip cost, Ottawa Ontario having one of the highest at $3.75 per trip.
One informed citizen commented, “At this rate we’ll be paying about$5 just to cross the harbour on the ferry, and to hell with that people will stop using those services before they will pay that much to go to and from places do to greedy private companies trying to make a buck and the Mayor is just too damn stupid to see this.”
So to those who use the services, send your voice, loud and clear, support our drivers as they ARE the backbone to this city’s functioning text our Mayor and tell him to negotiate properly and allow the ATU to keep what they have, it’s worked for this long, if it Ain’t broke DON’T FIX IT!