Transit strike possible as finals loom

By Katy Anderson

With a transit strike looming, many students are apprehensive about how they will make it to exams.

Currently, transit service has been reduced based on a work-to-rule decision by the Amalgamated Transit Union, but with talks between city negotiators and the union collapsing Sat., March 31, there has been increased speculation of a strike.

ATU president Mike Mahar said it is still too early to tell.

“I wouldn’t set a wager either way,” said Mahar. “There is a potential there but certainly our goal is for that not to happen. Strikes are a huge inconvenience for the public, it’s difficult on the members and it really does damage relationships in the work place and we don’t want to do that.”

The union is asking primarily for increased wages of 15 per cent over 30 months while the city is offering 11.5 per cent over 36 months. Mahar said the union’s demands are reasonable, noting their proposal is still below the city’s inflation rate.

“In Calgary’s market right now people have a lot of options, and without a proper compensation package they choose to move on or not come here in the first place,” said Mahar, noting that 130 drivers have quit since last September, putting the total needed drivers at 250. “Growth is part of the problem. The other part of the problem is that they don’t even have enough drivers to fulfill the obligations for the numbers they were using last year, so the growth of the city just compounds the problem.”

Mahar said if a strike were to occur it would still be several weeks away.

The University of Calgary’s examinations and grades assistant registrar Noel Foggo-Lamoureux said a strike would be inconvenient but not devastating for students facing final exams, noting the 2001 transit strike posed only nominal issues.

“We’d recommend planning ahead, having alternate transportation in place, and checking out any unknown rooms [for exams],” said Foggo-Lamoureux. “These kind of things become even more important when there is a strike possibility.”

Foggo-Lamoureux said instructors are willing to accommodate students and added students have up to 30 minutes to enter the exam room after an exam starts.

Neither the university administration nor the Students’ Union have a contingency plan in place.

“The SU could facilitate some sort of car pool program,” said SU president Emily Wyatt. “There definitely needs to be a contingency plan. The last thing we want is for students to miss their exams because they can’t get to them.”

With public transportation unavailable, the strain would fall on parking lots. Wyatt suggested partnering with administration to work with McMahon Stadium to open up parking to students, as well as being more lenient with parking tickets around campus.

“We are a commuter campus, and a lot of students take the train here and rely on it to get to their classes,” said Wyatt. “It [would] be a huge inconvenience for students.”

Mahar suggested concerned students call their alderman and ask them to ensure a fair deal.

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