Fri, 2008-10-10

The strike by 170 Viva bus drivers in York Region that began on September 25 will end today following a vote to accept the employer’s offer that had been earlier rejected. Full service on Viva routes will resume early Saturday morning.

Veolia Transportation had threatened through the company’s lawyer that if their final offer was not accepted by close of business today, wage retroactivity would be withdrawn and wage decreases a possibility.

“Many members had requested a vote even before the company’s unusual threat,” said Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. “As well, the Ministry of Labour representative had advised us that in view of the company’s action, a re-vote was warranted.”

“These members are all public service workers at heart, which is why they went into this line of work to begin with. They have a strong sense of community and responsibility to their passengers. But they felt they had to stand up to the company’s disrespect for them personally and for the value of their work.

“They have made their point and will now return to work. Unfortunately, the company’s bully tactics are not going to help repair labour relations, which have been deteriorating for the last couple of years.”

Kinnear pointed out that Veolia Transportation is a Paris, France-based global corporation driven by profits, not public service.

“This scenario is typical of what happens when you let the private sector take over public services. They do everything possible to make the workers’ jobs miserable and create animosity. This drives out experienced workers so that they can hire new, cheaper workers, increasing their profits.

“We have a settlement but we will not have peace unless the company starts showing respect and common human decency towards our members.”