LESS than two months after Winnipeg Transit workers signed a new contract, their union is publicly disputing its terms.
On Wednesday, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 called on the City of Winnipeg to honour its agreement over pay increases — which the city says are on the way.
"To be absolutely clear, in no way is the city reneging on provisions within the collective agreement," City of Winnipeg spokesman David Driedger wrote in an email.
The four-year deal includes a clause aimed at keeping long-serving workers: Transit employees in the top level of their job classifications were set to receive pay raises starting Nov. 15. Under the agreement, their salaries were to be bumped up by 0.5 per cent "effective pay period #23 (in) 2019," the contract says.
But the raises haven’t been paid out and workers weren’t told why, said Aleem Chaudhary, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505. "No reason has been given officially to our membership."
The city said Wednesday it is programming its pay systems to reflect the increase.
In a statement, Driedger said the raises will be paid out in the new year, retroactive to the 23rd pay period. The contract doesn’t say the 0.5 per cent increase will be paid within the 23rd pay period, he said.
"It’s anticipated that the retroactive payment for the wage increase will occur early in the new year, and that the $200 retention payment (also specified in the contract) will be made in pay period (No.) 26 of 2019," Driedger wrote.
"The timeline for the implementation of the rates of pay and the retroactive payments is consistent with previous agreements, including when the 2015 agreement was ratified with ATU."
The pay increases were meant to go to the most senior employees, including maintenance workers and bus drivers with more than four years of service, as a way to keep them from leaving, Chaudhary said.
"We have been seeing a lot of people that are leaving for other jobs because of the treatment that they’re getting with Winnipeg Transit, a lack of respect, I should say," he said, noting he has heard many complaints from the union’s members who haven’t seen their raises reflected on their two most recent pay stubs.
The ratification of the new contract Oct. 24 narrowly avoided a Transit strike after about 10 months of contentious negotiations, Chaudhary said. Slightly less than 52 per cent of union members voted in favour of the deal.
"We want to work together with them and we want to have a good relationship, but this is not a good way to start it off," Chaudhary said.
Updated on Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 9:29 PM CST: Full write through.