Montreal-area bus drivers go on strike, affecting thousands of students

Province-wide school bus strike set for May 15

About 4,000 students who live west of Montreal and on the West Island will need to find an alternative way to get to school this morning, as their bus drivers are going on strike.

Bus service will be suspended Monday on select routes serving elementary and high schools belonging to the Trois-Lacs and Lester B. Pearson school boards.

The Trois-Lacs School Board posted a list of affected bus routes here.

The Lester B. Pearson School Board's list of suspended bus routes can be found on its website.

At Lester B. Pearson, a total of two dozen bus routes will be affected at:

- Birchwood and Evergreen elementary schools in Saint-Lazare.

- Mount Pleasant Elementary in Hudson.

- Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary in Vaudreuil-Dorion .

- MacDonald High School in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

- Westwood High School's junior and senior campuses, in Saint-Lazare and Hudson, respectively.

The bus drivers are demanding better wages from their employer, Lucien Bissonnette Inc. Seventy-eight per cent of the drivers present at a recent meeting voted against their last contract offer. 

Classes will be held as usual

Both school boards said they didn't know how long the bus strike will last, but that classes will be held as planned.

Lester B. Pearson said it emailed all the parents whose children are affected about the situation.

"Parents are asked to find other ways to get their children to school," the Trois-Lacs School Board said on its website.

The drivers' union said the strike was pushed back "in order to give negotiations one last chance," but those meetings did not yield an agreement.

Strike avoided on the South Shore

Students on the South Shore of Montreal will be able to catch the bus to school Monday, however, after bus drivers in Sainte-Julie and Longueuil signed new collective agreements, averting a potential strike.

The Sogesco drivers working with Autobus Rive-Sud in Sainte-Julie voted 100 per cent in favour of a new, three-year contract that gives them a 7.5 per cent salary increase.

In Longueuil, 70 per cent of drivers voted in favour of a five-year contract that will see their salaries go up by 11.5 per cent.

The bus drivers currently make between $20,000 and $25,000 annually, and their unions welcomed the salary increases as a way to get them up to par with a rising cost of living.