Grand River Transit riders, including those who use Route 21 in Elmira, narrowly avoided service disruptions on Monday after the Region of Waterloo and the Local 4304 came to a tentative agreement.
The strike deadline was looming, at 12:01 a.m. on Mar. 20, but negotiations went on past the deadline in the interest of working out the final details.
“I think we were just dealing with some complicated issues that took a little bit of time to work out,” said Mike Murray, chief administrative officer with the region. “The good thing was that as we got to midnight there was agreement on both sides that we were making progress and nobody is going to take any action at that point and that we’ll keep talking and reach an agreement that night.”
The conditions outlined in the agreement will remain confidential until both the union and the region vote to ratify the deal.
President of the Union Local 4304, Rick Lonergan, says while he can’t talk specifics, he believes the agreement on the table is sound.
“It is a pretty reasonable agreement, so it should be okay,” he said. “There were some contention issues, but the majority have been dealt with and hopefully the members will find that reasonable at ratification time.”
The region’s 644 GRT employees had previously voted 98 per cent in favour of taking strike action if a deal could not be reached by the deadline.
“We were pleased to be able to negotiate an agreement and we are really glad there was no service disruption,” said Murray. “We are really happy to avoid any impact on our customers.”
The Grand River Transit system has 66,000 riders every day. In 2013, route 21 through Elmira and St. Jacobs had an average ridership of 350 per day.