By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – As bus riders prepare themselves for a possible strike, Cornwall Transit management is pushing for negotiations, rather than a walkout.
Cornwall Transit manager Len Tapp is confident a deal will be made with the city and buses will remain up and running.
Cornwall Transit manager Len Tapp is optimistic that an agreement can be reached between the city and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 946, who represent them.
"The administration of Cornwall Transit is committed to getting a deal and it's our intention to get one," said Tapp. "We need to get back to the table, roll up the sleeves and get back to business."
Negotiations have been ongoing with local bus drivers and the city since February.
Vice-president of ATU International Larry Kinnear told Seaway News, in a previous interview, that Cornwall Transit operators are paid the lowest rate in Ontario.
Kinnear said local bus drivers don't have paid sick days from the first day of illness, or compensation for not receiving scheduled breaks, similar to other public employees in the City of Cornwall. He also stated that Cornwall transit drivers receive the least amount of pay per hour in contrast to over a dozen transit unions he represents.
ATU announced that the deadline for the city to act or face a strike is now on Mon., Oct. 7, from an original date of Sept. 30; following mediation meetings between the two parties that are set for Oct. 4 and 5.
"The difference now is, both parties know what the remaining issues are - that’s why I feel we've been working toward them," said Tapp. "The issues are being addressed and I have every confidence we will get a deal done."
Tapp reminisced about the last contract negotiations a few years ago and felt that the timelines were similar.
"It's no different than the last round of negotiations a couple years ago and in the end we got a deal," said Tapp. "I'm not going to put a deadline on anything, as long as there's progress."
The subject of deadlines left Tapp wondering where things went from ongoing discussions to an impending strike in the headlines of local news articles.
"Cornwall Transit was a little bit surprised reading in the media that a deadline, rather than further negotiations, is in place," said Tapp.