Updated: Sun, 25 Oct 2009 20:13:00 GMT | By THE CANADIAN PRESS, cp.org

Labour dispute strands seniors and disabled who depend on HandyDart transit

VANCOUVER, B.C. - Thousands of seniors, those with physically disabilities and the seriously ill in Metro Vancouver have been left sitting at home after a labour dispute stalled their transportation service.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, representing HandyDart workers, issued 72-hour strike notice for Monday morning, but most drivers who showed up for work Sunday were told to go home.

Dave Watt, president of ATU local 1724, says the company jumped the gun without informing either the union or its customers that it would be stopping service.

Watt says they're looking for job security and to retain benefits after workers in eight separate unions were merged into one when the HandyDart service was contracted out to MVT Canadian Bus last year.

The company presented an offer to the union on Thursday, but Watt says the union had only clarified some of the issues in the offer before it found out its workers were being sent home.

The Labour Relations Board has ruled that HandyDart services for renal dialysis and cancer patients are essential and must be provided.

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