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Sherbrooke, Monday, September 30, 2002 - Bus drivers in Sherbrooke have called a strike to commence on Thursday, October 17, unless an agreement can be concluded before then with the Socit de transport de Sherbrooke (STS). The union executive’s decision to serve a new strike notice came the day after a general meeting of the bus drivers held yesterday morning, during which the members unanimously rejected the employer’s offers.

This strike notice does not mean that bargaining has been halted. Three meetings are still planned for October 7, 10 and 11. If there is to be a strike on October 17, it will begin at 8:30 a.m., as stated in the notice served by the union today.

On September 4, the STS drivers had suspended the strike commenced the day before to “give the bargaining a chance”. Since then, the parties have met many times. But, according to Jean-Pierre Roy, representative and spokesperson at the bargaining table, “on many points concerning non-monetary issues, the employer’s proposals are conditional to the introduction of non-permanent employees, a measure the bus drivers have always refused.” He also noted that “on the monetary side, the employer is offering 1.5% per year for the first four years of the agreement and 2% on March 1, 2006, without any cost of living adjustment.”

Several Issues Not Settled

Jean-Pierre Roy also pointed out that the wage equity issue had not been resolved. “At the STS, the duties of accounting clerks have been scientifically evaluated by the Socit’s wage equity committee. The study concluded that the value of this class title, predominantly held by women, is equal to that of the bus drivers and that both jobs deserve a remuneration of $21.47.” By virtue of the Pay Equity Act, this rate must be attained within a period of four years.

Compared to other transport companies, the salary paid to STS drivers is less generous than elsewhere in Qub0065c. In addition, the municipal portion of the STS budget is only 26%, falling far short of the 35% municipal share in Longueuil, 42% in Qub0065c City and 53% in Laval, all cities which, like Sherbrooke, provide a public transit system for their citizens.

Among other issues for which no agreement has yet been found are breaks, shuttle transport to various work points, cost of living adjustments, the length of the work day and the employer’s demands concerning the introduction of part-time drivers.

The STS bus drivers’ contract expired on February 28, 2002 and the parties have been at the bargaining table for five months. On June 11, the bus drivers unanimously gave their executive a mandate to exercise pressure tactics up to a strike.

In addition to the 115 STS drivers represented by local 3434, CUPE represents 6,500 members in urban transport in Qub0065c. In addition to this sector, CUPE is present in 10 other sectors, including universities, communications, education, municipalities, air transport, and health and social services. With close to 100,000 members in Qub0065c, it is the largest QFL affiliate.

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