Transit Union head warns that service disruptions likely to continue

By CityNews Halifax Staff

The head of the Transit Union says prospects are not looking good for improvements to HRM's transit service anytime soon.

Shane O’Leary, president of Amalgamated Transit Union 508, tells CityNews that between January and July, more than 40 transit workers have resigned, 22 have retired and an additional 4 workers have called it quits since last Friday.

The shortage of personnel has led to transit operators being “forced” to work overtime in order to keep services in operation however the city has suspended many services, which has led to a total of 75 cancelled transit trips a day, says the union boss.

“Attrition is higher than the recruitment,” says O'Leary, adding that although Halifax Transit recently launched a recruitment campaign, retention is the main issue. 

“They would have to do a vast amount of recruiting to even come up to level at this point in time,” continues the transit union head. “It's not as easy as putting up a poster and saying come work at Halifax Transit when nothing has changed internally.”

O'Leary adds most drivers are working 30 to 40 hours of overtime a week to keep up with the staff shortage and that the current pay scale for transit employees is about six percent below average when compared to other jurisdictions across Canada.

He notes that contract negotiations with the city are overdue but are scheduled to begin in October.

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