04/02/2017 15:33 EDT | Updated 04/03/2018 01:12 EDT

Waterloo region and GRT continue negotiations over the weekend

The Region of Waterloo and Local 4304 returned to the negotiating table this weekend after the union that represents 644 Grand River Transit (GRT) workers rejected a tentative agreement with the Region.

Unifor announced on Thursday that workers will go on strike as of 5:00 a.m. Monday, April 3 if a deal is not reached.

  • GRT workers reject tentative deal
  • If GRT strikes Monday riders will need to make alternate plans

The Region said in a statement it believed the agreement was fair as it included a wage increase of six per cent over three years, as well as some adjustments to employee benefits.

"We negotiated an agreement in good faith that the Unifor bargaining committee unanimously recommended that their members accept," Mike Murray, chief administrative officer for the Region, said in a statement. "We are disappointed that they have rejected it."

However, Unifor Local 4304 said wages were not the reason for the strike, but rather it was "working conditions and heavy-handed management practices".

"When workers vote to strike over working conditions, you know that the situation is toxic," Tim Mitchell, Unifor national representative, said in a statement Thursday.

"Drivers take pride in servicing the Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge area. We hope to be back in a safe and respectful workplace as soon as possible."

No buses will be running

If there is a strike Monday morning, there will be no buses running in the region, including school specials, and there will be no MobilityPLUS service.

The Charles and Ainslie Street terminals will also be closed.

However, GO Bus and Coach Canada buses will stick to their regular pick-up and drop-off schedules at the GRT bus stops on Queen Street and Weber Streets in Kitchener as well as on Ainslie Street and Dickson Street in Cambridge, according to the Region's Q and A web page.

Greyhound Bus services will also maintain regular scheduled service on Gaukle Street in Kitchener.  

Depending on how long the strike goes on, GRT will be making an announcement regarding residents who have purchased April monthly passes and university students who use U-Passes.

Planning ahead

The Region is suggesting regular GRT riders find alternative ways to get to their daily destinations including:

  • Carpooling
  • Driving
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Hailing a ride
  • Working from home