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Transit union sheds light on stolen Saskatoon bus, labour talks – Saskatoon

Watch above: ATU 615 president Jim Yakubowski discusses a stolen bus and the current labour talks at Saskatoon Transit

SASKATOON – The city’s transit union is shedding a little more light on what happened before a bus was stolen by a nine-year-old boy on Saturday morning.

Speaking on Global Saskatoon’s Morning News, ATU 615 president Jim Yakubowski says the stolen bus was one of two left running by a maintenance crew member.

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“Both buses were started,” said Yakubowski. “The maintenance individual went to move one bus inside, essentially put it on the hoist, but by the time he got back the youngster had already come and stole the bus.”

He said it’s not normal practice to leave buses running outside in summer, although it happens in winter because there is not enough room in the bus barns for the whole fleet.

“The odds of it happening again would still exist,” he said.

“It’s not the first time a bus has been stolen from the bus barns.”

Yakubowski said it was unfortunate so many things happened at once – the stolen bus, a fire on another bus Friday, and a week where some transit routes did not have buses because of a shortage of mechanics to keep the fleet operating at full strength.

“It’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances that everything seemed to come all at once.”

He added the union has emailed the city to ask for contract talks to begin again. The city’s latest contract offer was soundly rejected by the union, and so far no new talks are scheduled.

Yakubowski said the pension plan for transit employees and wages are both significant issues, and he said transit drivers are still “at the bottom” compared to other cities in Western Canada.

The union has been without a contract since 2012.

For its part, the City of Saskatoon says it has been successful at getting more buses on the road this week.

The city says its offer to the union is competitive, and would put operators very close to Regina, and 65 cents an hour behind Winnipeg.

The city also says there is a $7 million deficit in the pension fund for transit, and says changes need to be made.

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