By Matthew Blair
BELLEVILLE – Belleville city council has officially ratified a new agreement with the city’s bus drivers.
Council met last night for a speedy to vote on the deal:http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/council-ratifying.mp3 
The contract was approved by the drivers, members of Unifor Local 1839, on Sunday.
The new deal runs until March 31, 2016, and will see the drivers get benefits at the same level as other city employees.
“Neither party wanted to disrupt transit services,” said Belleville director of human resources John Martin.
“Both sides worked through a tense bargaining process to reach an agreement that was acceptable on both sides. It’s a good deal. (The) union got some things they were looking for and the city got some things they were looking for. In the end we were able to resolve the difference without any kind of labor disruption which is good for everyone.”
Right now transit workers’ wages are $23.33 an hour. They will see a pay increase of 2.5 per cent retroactive to April 1 of this year, 2 per cent on April 2, 2014, and 2 per cent on April 1, 2015. This means they will now make $23.92, then $24.40 and finally $24.89 at the end of the deal.
The city eliminated a shift premium for Sunday work, and clarified contract language to better control overtime and shift allocations.
Last night Belleville Mayor Neil Ellis said he’s happy with the new agreement:http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/mayor-neil-ellis-bus-deal.mp3 
Councilor Jack Miller said he believes it was a good deal.
“There was give and take on both sides, which is what a negotiation is all about. There are other things (the union) gave up to get the 2.5(-per-cent pay increase). It works out well for the fact there isn’t going to be any interruption in transit service for the next three years. “
The revised collective agreement will be brought to city council on Nov. 12 for formal approval.
Attempts to contact the union for comment were redirected back to John Martin.