The OC Transpo strike – a way forward

Most people in Ottawa are frustrated with the OC Transpo bus strike.  The refusal of the union leadership to consider any of the city’s contract offers seems unreasonable and certainly not in the best interest of the citizens of Ottawa.   What has been happening so far is that the union leaders have been rejecting all the city’s offers without giving their members a chance to vote.  It seems to me that the union leaders are not only ignoring the public good, they aren’t even acting in the best interests of most of their own union members.  Their position really only benefits a few people at the top of the union.

I’ve heard many people say that they believe the drivers should be ordered to return to work and that public transit should be declared an essential service, but that doesn’t seem likely, and it would also leave a lot of resentment in the union.  Yet if the strike hasn’t been resolved by the end of the holiday period, Monday January 5 promises to be a day of horrendous traffic snarls when commuters attempt to return to work and school.   Most of us aren’t looking forward to this. Isn’t there anything we can do?

Well, yes, there is.   In such circumstances, the federal Minister of Labour has the legal authority to order a vote of the union membership on the employer’s latest offer.  According to the City’s web site (, on December 24 the City of Ottawa asked the federal Minister of Labour, Rona Ambrose, to exercise this authority and require ATU local 279 to vote on the city’s latest contract offer.  So far,  Ms. Ambrose has not responded to this request.   It’s not too surprising that she didn’t respond during the Christmas/Boxing Day holiday period, but today is a normal work day and this issue is important enough that the City ought to get a response to its request.

If you want to make your voice heard to someone who can actually influence the process, e-mail Rona Ambrose ( at her Edmonton office, at her Ottawa office) and ask her to order ATU Local 279 to vote on the City’s latest contract offer.  It’s only fair that the members be given a chance to decide.