GO bus service has been suspended for the second day due to the strike

GO bus service has been suspended for the second day due to the strike

GO buses will be out of service all week as thousands of GO Transit workers and the Metrolinx union won’t meet until Friday.

Metrolinx, the Crown agency responsible for GO Transit, confirmed the meeting to CTV News Toronto on Tuesday night and said it is pleased the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has agreed to return to the bargaining table.

“Metrolinx remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached to accommodate ATU colleagues and get our GO buses back on the road for our customers,” the statement said, noting that Friday’s meeting will be the 21st bargaining session since April.

Earlier Tuesday, hundreds of GO Transit workers returned to picketing after a day of strike that has disrupted GO bus service around Greater Toronto.

About 2,200 workers – including bus operators, station managers, plant and fleet maintenance workers, transportation security officers and office workers – walked off the job Monday after failing to reach an agreement with the province.

The workers, represented by ATU Local 1587, said the main obstacle to the negotiations is hiring labor.

Workers held signs and chanted outside the Willowbrook maintenance facility in Etobicoke Tuesday morning.

“We’ve worked through the pandemic putting ourselves in harm’s way on the front lines, with employers ignoring us,” said ATU National President John Di Nino. “More importantly, under Bill 124 we are limited to a one percent pay raise, it’s a shame and they want to hire our jobs. We need job protection for our sisters and brothers, the men and women who move this province and move this city and we need it now.”

ATU International President John Costa traveled from the US to the demonstration and spoke to CP24.

“Would you sign an agreement to come here and put my heart and soul into it and do a good job, but at the same time, I agree that you can give away my work, outsource it to a lower bid?” said Costa. “So we’re here to unite, we’re here in solidarity.”

He pointed out that during the pandemic workers were treated “like heroes”, but not anymore.

“We lost 230 members to COVID. We had tens of thousands of patients and we were standing here and being called heroes but then when you get to the table, that’s how you treat us with this disrespect. You can’t have it both ways,” Costa said.

The workers have been without a contract since June and voted 93% in favor of the strike order in August.

The strike was due to begin on October 31, but was delayed while members considered a new offer, which ultimately failed. The two sides negotiated over the weekend, but did not reach an agreement.

Metrolinx says there is no GO bus service until further notice due to the strike, but GO trains and UP Express trains are still operating.

The agency said new issues were raised over the weekend and could not be resolved in time.

“We hope to get clear language in the contract in terms of hiring,” one worker told CP24 from the picket line on Tuesday.

Another said he would continue the strike “as long as it takes” to change the language around labor hiring.

Both sides have said they are ready to return to the negotiating table.

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