Strike notice served in Ontario school bus negotiations

Have been in position to walk out since December 2017: Unifor
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 02/23/2018
Labour relations
The union is obligated to issue 72-hours strike notice but has opted to issue almost twice that to ensure parents, students and users of these systems have as much time as possible to prepare alternate arrangements, according to Unifor. SHUTTERSTOCK

Unifor, Local 4268 — representing school bus drivers in Ontario — served First Student Canada with a strike notice on Feb. 23 that will effective as of 12:01 a.m. on March 1.

"Negotiations are continuing and it is our hope that a fair settlement can still be reached as we are fully aware of the key service that drivers provide to school communities," said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario regional director. "It's clear however that low wages and the resulting driver shortages are chronic problems that must be addressed in the Ontario system."

The strike notice applies to First Student Owen Sound and Wiarton as well as Port Elgin and Kincardine. In addition to school bus routes in these regions the Owen Sound Transit system and the Bruce Power shuttle service could see a withdrawal of services if no deal is reached, said the union.

The union is obligated to issue 72-hours strike notice but has opted to issue almost twice that to ensure parents, students and users of these systems have as much time as possible to prepare alternate arrangements, according to Unifor.

"School bus drivers deserve to be paid in accordance with the responsibilities of the job," said Debbie Montgomery, president of Unifor, Local 4268. "These workers have been kept at the bottom of the professional driver pay scale with lesser working conditions for too long and that has to be fixed if we want to maintain quality drivers."

The drivers have been in a legal strike position since Dec. 10, 2017, and negotiations have been ongoing over the past three months. Unifor is also negotiating on behalf of members in the Bowmanville region but those drivers are not included in the current strike notice, said the union.

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