Bus drivers with Saguenay public transit (STS), in Quebec, have shown their enormous support for the agreement reached last month between their bargaining committee and the employer. The 125 drivers, who had been without a collective agreement since December 31, 2016, voted 95.9% in favour of the new agreement Sunday night, October 21, in Saguenay.

The five-year agreement includes a wage increase of 3% for the first three years and 2.5% for subsequent years. Members won the right to participate in route planning, retained important language on contracting out, and improved vacation and leave provisions. Part-time drivers also saw improvements to their working conditions.

The president of CUPE 3124, José-Nicolas Lopez, is pleased with the agreement. “I would like to thank our mobilization committee, the drivers, and the people of Saguenay, whose support helped us reach this agreement.”

Negotiations were arduous. Last July, the membership voted 98.8% in favour of pressure tactics, up to and including strike action. However, an intense negotiation session with an arbitrator finally led to the agreement reached September 28.

“The employer underestimated the extent to which the drivers had mobilized, by focussing not only on their working conditions but also on providing high-quality service to users. We hope that, in future, the STS will recognize drivers as key partners in the quest for better transit service in Saguenay,” said CUPE representative, Claire Simard.