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The Société de transport de Laval (STL) bus drivers’ union is gearing up for a 24-hour strike on January 10, 2011. During negotiations last Tuesday, union representatives were caught off guard when their employer did a complete about-face and tabled a supposed final offer, which included management’s main demands while excluding most of the union’s. Up until this point, negotiations were progressing smoothly and an agreement was imminent.

Both sides did however agree this morning on the essential services to be maintained on January 10. The agreement was submitted for approval to the Essential Services Council, and a decision is expected shortly. The proposal is to maintain normal bus service from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. There will be no STL bus service outside of these hours. Moreover, STL will be completely shutting down its school bus transportation service for the Commission scolaire de Laval and some private schools. The STL is not responsible for paratransport, therefore it will not be affected by the strike.

“We were ready to consider accepting tighter restrictions to our schedules in exchange for increases to salaries and to the pension plan. The employer slammed on the brakes and put a stop to negotiations, just when an agreement was in sight. In spite of this, we remain ready to jump-start the process again, under reasonable terms. But as long as the process is stalled, we will go ahead with the one-day strike on January 10,” said union president Richard Ouimet.

CUPE Local 9870 started representing the STL’s 500 or so bus drivers on September 13, 2010. They have been without a labour contract since July 31, 2010.