The Société de transport de Laval (STL) and the union representing drivers are trading jabs this week, as the union announces three strike days for next month.
“The lack of seriousness on the part of the STL at the bargaining table” forced the union to announce the strike, namely November 3, 15 and 26, according to a CUPE release. “We keep saying it, the employer does not want to take our concerns into consideration. Unfortunately, it is very much like the management of the STL which, through its mismanagement, is endangering the transport service of the citizens of Laval” explained union local president Patrick Lafleur. “We do not want a strike, but we will do it to ensure the sustainable development of the city.”
The union has a strike mandate voted by 99% of its members last January and representatives say they met with several candidates vying for mayoral positions and municipal councillors in order to make them aware of the fact that the STL is hindering the negotiation process. “ In 2021, public transit should be a priority issue for all cities the size of Laval. There is no sustainable development if there is no public transport” said Lafleur.
Meanwhile the STL management says it is unacceptable that the union announced three days of strike when talks in the presence of a mediator are in their second session. “This gesture, particularly in times of a pandemic, has the consequence of depriving customers of an essential, efficient and low-cost service, particularly for front-line workers” reads a statement. “Despite the repeated threat of a strike by the drivers’ union, the STL intends to continue the mediation process with the firm desire to negotiate an agreement to the satisfaction of both parties involved.”
The STL says due to the significant drop in ridership linked to the pandemic it must respect its financial framework. Recent collective agreements reached with maintenance and office workers were concluded with the same financial and operational parameters as those proposed for the renewal of the collective agreement for drivers, says the Corporation.
The attempt to relaunch public transit with ridership and revenues levels observed before the pandemic “should be an opportunity to work in collaboration with our drivers to improve the customer experience and encourage population to opt for public transport” in the fight against road congestion and climate change.
“At the same time, the STL wishes to reassure users about the maintenance of an adequate essential service for customers and the population of Laval. To this end, it will take the necessary measures to ensure that the union party offers an adequate essential service for clients, as prescribed by the Essential Services Act. Management will do everything in its power to communicate to users as soon as possible the details of the bus service that will be deployed during the drivers’ work stoppages.”