Acadian Lines workers complain about “bad faith bargaining”

 

Fifty-nine Acadian Lines workers could strike as early as Nov. 21. (Tom Bateman/AQ)

The union representing 59 workers from Acadian Lines has filed a labour complaint against the bus line.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1229 workers, who are mechanics, bus drivers, customer service representatives and maintenance workers, could go on strike as early as Nov. 21. The membership voted 98 per cent in favour of striking last month.

Talks between the union and the company broke down on Oct. 28.

The complaint, registered with the Canada Industrial Relations Board, says the talks ended because of “bad faith bargaining on the part of Acadian.

“To that end, Acadian unilaterally cancelled several scheduled negotiating sessions, instead using those same dates to hold captive audience meetings with employees in various cities around the province of New Brunswick.”

The union also says the bus line disciplined every member of the union’s bargaining team and fired its union president.

Marc-André Varin, a spokesman with Orléans Express, which owns Acadian Lines, refused to comment on the complaint.

Union president Glen Carr, who said he was fired from the company because of his union work, said the bus line is trying to undermine the union. Carr drove Acadian buses back and forth from Moncton to Rivière-du-Loup, Que.

“What it is, is it’s bullying, intimidation and coercion.”

In the company’s latest statement, Varin said the company hopes to come to an agreement and is willing to return to negotiations “and engage in meaningful discussion with a strong commitment to improve operations and find a viable solution.”

The negotiations so far have focused on work organization and driver assignments, while money hasn’t yet been discussed, the press release said.

The workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31 and pensions, job security, wages and hours of work are some of the issues the two sides can’t agree on.

In 2008, the same issues almost caused a strike, but a deal was reached at the 11th hour.

Last Thursday, Varin said the company doesn’t have a plan if a deal can’t be reached in time.

“We’re not focusing on that at this time. We’re focusing on going back to the table and finding a resolution to the conflict. We don’t have anything in place at this time.

“If we do have to reach that point, we’ll make proper arrangements and we’ll make them known.”

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