NS: Halifax council pushes for more details on Transit contract

Alex Boutilier
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Metro Halifax

Jackie Barkhouse, 

councillor for Woodside-Eastern Passage, said she has no confidence in the negotiation process between the municipality and ATU Local 508, which voted overwhelmingly to reject city hall’s contract offer.

Passengers board a bus on Barrington Street Monday afternoon.

[HALIFAX, NS] — Halifax regional council needs to review the contract offered by Metro Transit to more than 700 unionized workers, according to Jackie Barkhouse.

The councillor for Woodside-Eastern Passage said she has no confidence in the negotiation process between the municipality and ATU Local 508, which voted overwhelmingly to reject city hall’s contract offer on Sunday.

“There’s certainly, with me, absolutely zero wiggle room anymore,” said Barkhouse yesterday. 

“I want to see (the offer) for myself, and I want to know exactly what’s going on.”

Council received a high-level overview of the contract negotiations, but Barkhouse said major sticking points for the union — the use of part-time operators and contracting out services — were not mentioned.

“(It’s) so significant that we wouldn’t have been told that, especially given the fact that there are a few members of council that are so opposed to contracted out services in general,” Barkhouse said. 

“It’s quite unbelievable that something that significant, we would have to read in the paper.”

Talks between the union and the municipality broke off earlier this month. On Sunday, approximately 650 ATU members voted 98 per cent in favour of rejecting the municipality’s contract. If no deal is made by Feb. 2, Halifax will see its first transit strike in 14 years.

Ken Wilson, the president of Local 508, says the union and Metro Transit have agreed to return to the bargaining table on Jan. 29, 30 and 31 to try and work out a deal.

Organizations: Halifax regional council, Metro Transit

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