THE STRIKE IS OVER
Yes its true after nearly 52 days without public transit the city and union agreed to binding arbitration as the Feds were getting ready to produce legislation that would have forced the drivers back to work and let an arbiter sort out the details.
This strike has shown the absolute worst and best of Ottawa. There can be no doubt of the acts of kindness that were generated between citizens to help each other out through a christmas and holiday season with no busses, getting to work during the coldest part of the year and helping students get to exams.
However it also revealed for all to see the short sighted way decisions happen up here. The Union, represented by Andre Cornellier, was callous, insenstive to the plight of the public and was probably more aggressive than they needed to be. The city under the leadership of the mayor largely ignored that teh strike was evening happening as it saved the city 3.4 million a week. Even after all the compensation measures are factored in teh city still ended up saving a net of 5 million dollars.
The option for arbitration was discussed weeks ago. Why both parties needed the treat of legislation 3 weeks after this, to get them to agree on a reasonable solution already proposed just shows you the type of people we're dealing with. Self-interested, short sighted and completely uncaring about the impact the strike had on the public they both serve. If this was any other city in any other country citizens would have been picketing the mayor's house and the union leader's house until a resolution was found. This being ottawa, people helped each other out and didn't squeak too much.
Ultimately there were no winners in this strike. The union looked really bad. The mayor looked indifferent and the citizens were left in the cold. At this point in time we really need to rethink how we approach labour relations. We cannot nor should we remove protections workers have fought for for so long. At the same time the old Union/Management game has lost its lustre and its effectiveness. We need something new.
Personally I woudl propose joint labour/management committees for all unionized employees. The committees must agree, by consensus, on terms for contracts, labour disputes and other such things. This would prevent strikes and also the animosty current in place as management and labour exist in two unhelpful solitudes