The union representing Laval bus drivers (CUPE 5959) took the opportunity to speak to elected officials during the first in-person city council meeting in two years by holding a demonstration about serious problems at the Société de transport de Laval (STL) and at the bargaining table.
“During the election campaign, the mayor took a stance in favour of ecological transformation. We’re there to remind him that sustainable development can’t occur without public transit. At this point, the situation at the STL has gotten so serious that Laval’s public transit service is in jeopardy,” explained Patrick Lafleur, president of the STL drivers’ union.
The work atmosphere has gotten immeasurably worse in recent months. The unions are no longer able to have respectful discussions with management let alone negotiate. STL has trouble retaining employees at a time of labour shortages, which is worrisome. It is providing less service, but administrative costs have spiked.
“Between 2020 and 2022, right in the midst of a pandemic, administrative costs rose by almost 20 per cent. Who was hired and why? The focus should instead be on making service more reliable and effective to increase ridership. In 2020, we provided 2662 routes per day, and in 2022, this figure dropped to 2552,” argued Lafleur with figures in hand.
CUPE 5959 has been negotiating to renew its collective agreement for more than two years now. The union has a strike mandate that received 99 per cent support from its members at a vote held in January 2021.