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Strike Over: DriveTest centers to reopen in Jan

TORONTO -- The strike by Ontario's 590 driving examiners at 93 drive-test sites is over and they'll be back to work in the New Year, but the crippling effects of the four-and-a-half-month dispute will be felt for a long time to come.

The two sides in the dispute, Serco DES Inc., and the Canadian Steelworkers Union, announced this past weekend that they've reached an agreement to end the four-month strike, reports Canadian Press.

Details have not been released, but most centers are scheduled to be open for regular business Monday, January 4. Facilities in smaller communities, will open the next day, on Jan. 5. Still, the backlog remains huge. And the company will reportedly hire 100 new workers to help clear it up.

Customers are asked to wait two weeks before making an appointment. Those who've missed their test due to the strike should get priority booking, Paul Dalglish, DriveTest's managing director, told CP.

Among those hardest hit: graduates of truck-driving schools who were unable to drive their road-tests; Ontario drivers with A/Z designations who every five years much write a renewal test and commercial drivers over 65 who are obliged to re-qualify every year.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) granted extensions whose licences expired during the strike.

The MTO under Premier Dalton McGuinty, contracted the testing of drivers out to Serco DES in 2003. At that time, the Province and Serco entered a 10 year agreement.

The main issues between the two sides were wages, benefits, and a proposal to increase the number of part-time jobs.

Meantime, if you feel like staying "on hold" for a half an hour or so (if you're lucky), you can call the Drivetest Centre at 1-888-570-6110. 

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