Metrobus drivers and maintenance workers have decided to strike and are scheduled to have picket lines set up at Metrobus headquarters on Freshwater Road as early as 6 a.m. today.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1462 president Paul Churchill says the membership voted 97 per cent in favour of labour action.
The union and transit authority entered conciliation talks last week, but they broke off late Tuesday afternoon.
The strike vote started Wednesday morning and continued throughout the day as workers changed shifts.
The union made the announcement late Wednesday night after a meeting with staff that union workers will strike.
The sticking point was the health benefits package, said Churchill.
Metrobus management has said the system will not operate while workers are on strike, leaving thousands scrambling to find alternate transportation.
In a news release from Metrobus, general manager Judy Powell said the transit authority regrets the inconvenience to its ridership.
“The reality is, though, there is a limit to what we can agree to at the negotiating table and we have gone as far as we can,” Powell said in the release.
Metrobus officials were meeting late Wednesday to talk about the development.
Churchill said the drivers and staff regret the public will have to find other transportation.
There’s no time set to get back to the table, both sides said Wednesday, but both said they were willing to talk.
“The reality is, though, there is a limit to what we can agree to at the negotiating table and we have gone as far as we can.” - Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1462 president Paul Churchill
The last time the transit authority workers went on strike was in November 2004 for 20 days.
Metrobus averted a strike in December 2007, when workers signed a three-year deal after voting to not walk out and go back to the table.
Before that, the last official strike at Metrobus occurred in 1974, although workers engaged in wildcat strikes in 1988 and 2000.
Metrobus carries roughly 14,000 passengers each day, with 17 bus routes in St. John’s and Mount Pearl. It operates a fleet of 54 buses.
For more information, see www.metrobus.com or call 722-9400.