After an almost two month lockout of Codiac Transpo workers, riders are still struggling to get around.   Many packed Moncton City Council Chambers last night.

Dan Robichaud suffers from a number of disabilities and admits it’s not easy without the bus.  “I’ve been struggling a lot.  I’ve been walking a lot, and most days, I’m so weak.”  But he says he’s not the only one, “This affects people that are blind, people that are disabled, people that are elderly.”

Robichaud says he has been calling the City every day this month with his concerns.  

Mike is a Bus Driver with Codiac Transpo.  He says the loss of income hasn’t been easy for some of his colleagues.  “I think some of them are having a tough time, but most of them seem to be in pretty good spirits actually.  Most of us are trying to stay positive, as positive as you can.  No sense in being negative all the time.”

Deputy Mayor Merrill Henderson responded to the concerns, but says when it comes to negotiations, the ball is in ATU Local 1290′s court.  “Council has offered the most the City and Greater Moncton taxpayers can afford. As I’ve said, anything more than a 2 per cent annual increase is unrealistic and unjustifiable to the taxpayers of Greater Moncton. The Amalgamated Transit Union is holding riders, citizens and Council over a barrel with a wage demand that would see their salaries increase from over $44,000 a year today to over $55,000 at the end of their contract.  Council’s offer, on the other hand, would see bus drivers make over $50,000 at the end of the contract. I think that that is more than fair. “

He says, “We want to get back to the table and negotiate with the Union. But, the ball is in the
Union’s court. We urge ATU 1290 to get back to the negotiating table with us and to come with realistic
demands—demands that we can justify to both taxpayers and Codiac Transpo users.”

Henderson says the City’s priority is getting the buses back on the roads, “Council is fully committed to restoring public transit. Council is fully committed to you—the users—and to a service in the future that is efficient, reliable and affordable. And Council is fully committed to being responsible to Moncton’s taxpayers.”

He suggests that riders who are upset over the lockout should voice their concerns to the Union as well.  “Explain to ATU 1290 why you need your bus service. We’ve heard your concerns, the Union needs to hear them too. And, they also need to justify to you their unrealistic wage demands.”

Codiac Transpo workers were locked out on June 27th.

The last round of negotiations between the City and the Union broke off in mid-July.