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School bus driver strike averted

Last Updated Nov 3, 2016 at 7:03 am EDT

A school bus driver strike has been averted.

A tentative agreement was reached between the union representing drivers and operator First Student Inc. just before 6 a.m. on Thursday.

If a strike or lockout had occurred, parents of some 18,000 children would have had to come up with alternate transportation.

“Our drivers are working today, they’re looking forward to working today,” Unifor Local 4268 president Deb Montgomery told reporters shortly after the deal was reached.

“This should bring a lot of relief to the parents, to the kids, they’ve had a rough start to the year.”

The agreement, which still needs to be ratified, will last three years. Other details are not yet known.

Talks aimed at avoiding the strike, or lockout, had continued well past the midnight deadline, offering some hope that a solution was close at hand.

“These were very difficult negotiations but our bargaining committee remained committed to stay at the table until a deal was achieved,” Montgomery said in a statement.

Earlier, she said the main issues are job security and wages for drivers.

“We are looking for recognition of the important work and responsibilities taken on by drivers, day in and day out,” she said.

“We cannot continue to have hours a week go unpaid and unrecognized. All hours worked need to be compensated, with these hours EI eligible.”