Exactly one year ago, thousands of Saskatoon Transit users were left scrambling for a new ride when bus service came to screeching halt.
The city’s transit lockout would drag on for 29-days before a labour board ruling ultimately forced City Council to put buses back on the road.
Today, the 330 members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 615 are still without a new collective agreement, but their president Jim Yakubowski has reason to hope.
Recent talks with the city, he said, yielded “progress” on pension and wages, the two main sticking points in three years of negotiations.
“There’s still a sense of optimism. From our executive perspective, we have been relaying to our members to continue to come to work and maintain the professional quality of work you do,” Yakubowski said.
Getting a new deal for members is a priority, Yakubowksi said, but so to is restoring people’s confidence in transit, which was shaken during the month-long lockout.
Part of the new direction for transit is a five-year plan which was adopted by the city’s transportation committee earlier this month. The plan aims to have better customer service, a fully accessible bus fleet by 2018 and the relocation of the bus barns to the new city operation centre near the landfill in 2017.
“ATU is obviously a part of that and we agree with moving forward and making some positive change for the city,” Yakubowksi said.
The lockout the city enacted resulted in three labour board complaints against them. All remain unresolved.
As for ongoing contract discussions between the city and ATU; a new round of talks is tentatively scheduled for the end of the month.