Loading articles...

York region transit talks break down

Just hours after they began, talks between one of York region’s three striking transit groups and the employer ended Saturday.

The union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents drivers for Veolia Transportation met with the company for the first time since the strike began nearly seven weeks ago.

But talks quickly broke down, with the two sides arguing over how much employees should pay for their own health care benefits package

“We’ve done everything we can to try to settle this. Veolia’s attempts to squeeze the health care of their employees’ families is as inexplicable as it is offensive,” said Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113.

“It looks once again like the only way this is going to get settled is through arbitration. We’ll go back to work tomorrow if the company agrees to this.”

Veolia Transportation issued their own statement Saturday, apologizing to customers.

“We regret the inconvenience this strike has caused to passengers and we will continue to remain open to continuing to meet with the union to solve these issues.”

ATU Local 1587 is also involved in the strike. It represents employees of Miller Transit and First Canada. Those companies are contracted to run York Region Transit (YRT) buses. These employees have been on strike since Oct. 24.

The strike has affected about 50,000 people who rely on the service.

So far, no talks are scheduled between Local 1587 and Miller and First Canada.

Besides healthcare, the main the main issues are the gap in wages and benefits between the York workers and their counterparts elsewhere in the Greater Toronto Area.