GTA school bus strike averted at the last minute

Nov 30 2017, 1:49 pm

It appears another strike that would affect Ontario students has come to an end, at least for the time being.

Unifor Local 4268 has reached a tentative first agreement with First Student Canada in Ajax and Brooklin, averting a bus strike set to begin this morning.

“This is good news for drivers, and good news for parents,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.

“We have reached a deal that addresses our key concerns, and better reflects the hours drivers actually work.”

The main issue of the talks was unpaid time for bus drivers at the beginning and the end of their shifts.

Currently, there are 260 bus drivers involved.

Drivers are not paid for the time driving from the depot where they pick up their buses until they pick up their first students, and are not paid for the time needed to inspect buses in the morning or scrape ice from the windows.

“When you count up all the hours worked and the pay they receive, they are working for less than minimum wage,” Rizvi said. “It’s a full time commitment for part time pay.”

The drivers at First Student Ajax and First Student Brooklin serve approximately 10,000 students, who would have all been without rides to school, at the Durham District School Board, the Durham Catholic District School Board, the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud.

This involves schools in the Ajax, Brock, OshawaPickeringScarborough, Scugog, Uxbridge and Whitby areas.

Unifor Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery said the unpaid hours makes it difficult for bus companies to recruit and hire new drivers, which leads to shortages such as at the Toronto school boards last year.

“The best way to recruit new drivers is to treat them fairly,” Montgomery said. “We love driving buses, and deserve to be paid for all the hours we work. That’s only fair.”

Montgomery said the bargaining committee unanimously recommended the deal for ratification.

Full details on the new collective agreement will be made available after a ratification which is said to happen in the coming days.

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