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Sherbrooke, Wednesday, September 4, 2002, at 9:30 p.m. - Bus drivers for the Socit de transport de Sherbrooke (STS), who called a work stoppage yesterday, with a view to advancing bargaining, are suspending their strike. So, buses will be running as usual in the streets of Sherbrooke tomorrow (Thursday), starting at 5:15 a.m. Union president, Andr 0042oucher explained, “it’s important to give bargaining a chance. We deplore the delays already caused by the employer’s lack of sincerity in submitting his demands; nevertheless, a meeting has been planned for tomorrow, Thursday.”

For the union president, the return to work “does not mean that everything has been settled and all is going well.” He pointed out that the objective is not to go on strike just to go on strike, but to obtain an acceptable labour contract for all the members as quickly as possible. As for the future, the union executive will be monitoring developments at the bargaining table to re-evaluate the situation as to whether or not the strike will take place later in September.

The dispute

Among the issues being contested are coffee and meal breaks, the length of working days, wages, recognition of years accumulated in other sectors, sub-contracting, shuttle transport to the various work sites, as well as the employer’s demands concerning the introduction of part-time drivers.

A bus driver receives a fixed wage of $18.65 an hour. The wage equity committee formed by the STS has concluded that the salary of a driver should be around $22 an hour and the law provides that this salary be spread out over five years. Compared to other transport companies, the salary paid to the STS drivers is less generous that 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.

The labour contract for the STS bus drivers expired on February 28, 2002 and the parties have been in negotiation for four months. On June 11, the bus drivers unanimously assigned their union executive a mandate to initiate pressure tactics which could extend as far as a strike.

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

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Robert Bellerose, CUPE Communications
Cell : (514) 247-9266