Gatineau bus drivers begin rotating strikes

STO bus
An STO bus in downtown Ottawa.

The commute over the Ottawa River got even more challenging this week as talks between the Gatineau transit authority and workers broke down, setting up weekly rotating strikes that started Thursday morning.

Earlier in the week, the union had promised weekly stoppages, to take place every Thursday, if its members could not come to terms with the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO).

The Canada Industrial Relations Board rejected an appeal from the STO to declare union’s strike action unlawful.

The union also rejected an offer from the STO to settle the dispute. 

Céline Gauthier, a spokesperson for the STO, said she don’t know when negotiations might resume.

STO drivers and mechanics had been working to rule since Jan. 20, refusing overtime hours and reporting buses for repairs, both of which combined to create a maintenance backlog that led to STO cancelling scores of routes for commuter.

Negotiations to renew the union’s contract, which expired in December 2014, have focused on overtime and retirement pay.

On January 30, both sides started a series of negotiations under a federally appointed mediator (the company’s inter-provincial services place it under federal regulations).

– With files from Matt LaForge and Dylan Robertson