Trois-Rivir0065s, Monday, October 6, 2003 The union thinks that a settlement could be within reach if STTR management (Socit de transport de Trois-Rivir0065s) were to put a little more into it. Only two items still have to be settled at the bargaining table: the use of pension surpluses and salary indexation.
The issue of pensions
STTR employees pension plan recorded a surplus of 2.4 million dollars according to the figures that the two sides agreed on last May. This pension surplus is still at the heart of the dispute between bus drivers and the STTR. On this point, the union is not demanding additional funds. Discussions foundered on the future use of the accumulated funds, because the employer wants to apply the so-called banker clause.
We are not asking the STTR for a cent more. The money is there, and were close to an agreement on using the surplus to enhance the retirement fund, explained Ren 0046rc0068ette. We even conceded to let the employer use part of the surplus to compensate managements share for the next three years. The problem is that management wants to get its hands on all the surplus assets for the future, and I dont see how our members could accept that, he added. Its as if the bosses want to have their cake and eat it too! stated union negotiator, Ren 0046rc0068ette.
The pay issue
Pay is the other issue that still hasnt been resolved. Luc Giroux, union president, summarized the pay offers submitted thus far: The STTR has offered the following increases: 2 % in 2002, 2 % in 2003, 2 % in 2004, 2.5 % in 2005 and 2.5 % in 2006, without any cost-of-living indexation. He says he agrees with these increases as long as they are accompanied by an indexation clause based on the CPI (consumer price index) for the years 2003 to 2006. The union proposal ties this indexation to a 3% yearly maximum (that is, the increase plus the CPI). So far, the STTR hasnt wanted to envisage such a scenario, even though this indexation was tabled in a working hypothesis from the conciliator.
Essential services will be assured
Luc Giroux confirmed that union members will ensure essential services for the entire duration of the strike. He pointed out that aside from adapted transport, the union is voluntarily providing essential services during the work stoppage. No legal obligations require the union to ensure services in the morning and evening – but the union president was quick to specify that throughout the entire work stoppage, buses will be running from 6:45 to 8:45 a.m. and from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. There will be no regular bus services on weekends or holidays.
The bus drivers have been without a contract since December 31, 2001. Contract talks started up over a year and a half ago on February 20, 2002, but still havent led to a satisfactory settlement. The urban transit drivers held a 3-day strike from June 6 to June 8. The last meeting between management and the union was held on October 1, with a conciliator appointed by the labour minister. Now it is up to the conciliator to convene the two sides, if he deems it necessary.
Local 4115 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-FTQ) represents bus drivers, mechanics and office workers, for a total of 100 STTR employees. CUPE has approximately 6,500 members in urban transit in Quebec. Besides urban transit, CUPE is also present in 10 other sectors including universities, communications, education, municipalities, airlines, health care and social services. With a total of nearly 100,000 members in Qub0065c, it is the largest union affiliated with the FTQ.
A copy of this press release and other information are available on CUPE-Quebecs website: scfp.qc.ca
SOURCE: CANADIAN UNION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES (FTQ)
Luc Giroux, President of CUPE-Quebec, cell: 819-370-7218
Ren 0046rc0068ette, Union Representative, cell: 514-893-0634
Robert Bellerose, CUPE-Quebecs Communications Branch, cell: 514-247-9266