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TTC union head warns of ‘dissatisfaction’ and possible job action

The TTC had to enlist supervisors to work during Nuit Blanche after what appeared to be an organized effort by workers to decline overtime shifts.

The head of the TTC workers union says his members could escalate a job action against the transit agency, following what appears to be an organized effort to decline overtime shifts during Nuit Blanche.

With hundreds of thousands of people expected to attend the city’s annual all-night art event, the transit commission offered special service on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) and Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) between 1:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. last Sunday.

The transit agency needed 40 employees to work the shift, but only nine out of more than 600 subway operators volunteered. The TTC had to enlist supervisors to drive the trains instead.
Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, said the mass refusal was a “grassroots movement” that wasn’t co-ordinated by the union. He said that members told him they took action partly in response to the TTC’s plan to eliminate the guard position on some of its subway trains. Kinnear said some were upset by comments made by TTC management that he claimed depicted the guards as mere “button-pushers.”

“It would seem at this point that there was some discussions amongst numerous employees and they decided to communicate their displeasure to management,” said Kinnear.
“And I think the reason that they did that is management quite frankly is not listening to any of their concerns.”

Kinnear alleged that the TTC’s use of supervisors to operate trains on Sunday was a “direct violation” of the union’s collective agreement, an accusation the transit agency denies. Kinnear said the union intended to file a grievance over the issue.

He added that unless the TTC becomes more “receptive” to union concerns, “I can almost assure you that you will see an escalation of members communicating their dissatisfaction to the TTC.”

Kinnear wouldn’t say what further action employees might take.

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