The union representing Halifax Transit operators has a new contract, after nearly two years without one.
Shane O'Leary, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union 508, and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage signed the contract on May 4.
The contract, which is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2021, addresses major concerns including wages, more money for training and wage parity between drivers of accessible and conventional buses, according to O'Leary. Drivers of accessible buses were being paid $2 per hour less.
Transit operators will now see three per cent annual wage increases, a total increase of 12.55 per cent by Aug. 31, 2025, when the contract is set to expire.
O'Leary described the new contract as "acceptable," and said that 94 per cent of union members were satisfied with the deal.
"Even with what we believe is a good contract, we don't have labour peace," said O'Leary.
He says drivers are being attacked and abused by some passengers, and workers aren't allowed to do much about it.
"They can be banned from the terminal, but then they can ride the buses or the ferries anywhere [else] at any point in time they want. There's no repercussions for their violent actions or their disturbing actions."
Hope for the future
After operations on some routes were reduced over past year or so due to staffing shortages, O'Leary said he hopes higher wages and a secure contract will help attract more transit operators.
"I hope that the new wages and the fact that we didn't lose any concessions will make it appealing for people to come and work," he said.
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