November 30, 2017
School bus driver strike averted in Durham Region, part of Toronto after tentative deal reached
Phil Heidenreich and David Shum
File photo of stop sign on school bus.
The union representing school bus drivers who work for First Student Canada said late Wednesday night a strike has been averted after earlier warning a strike could have happened as of midnight without a labour deal.
In a news release, Unifor Local 4268 said it had reached a tentative agreement with First Student Canada in Ajax and Brooklin.
“This is good news for drivers, and good news for parents,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s regional director in Ontario.
“We have reached a deal that addresses our key concerns, and better reflects the hours drivers actually work.”
Unifor did not disclose what the tentative deal entails but said the key “sticking point” in talks was unpaid time for drivers at the start of their shifts, as well as at the end. The union wanted drivers to be paid for driving from the depot where they pick up their buses until they pick up their first students. They also wanted drivers to be compensated for time spent inspecting buses in the morning.
“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.”
Debbie Montgomery, the union local’s president, said the bargaining committee unanimously recommended the deal for ratification. Complete details of the new collective agreement will be released if the deal is ratified in the coming days.
Had the drivers gone on strike, about 10,000 students, including some in Toronto, would have been affected by a walkout Thursday morning.
READ MORE: First Student Canada school bus drivers in Durham region could go on strike next week
Unifor 4268 issued a 72-hour strike notice on Monday.
In the event of a labour disruption, there would have been no bus service for routes served by First Student Ajax and First Student Brooklin.
The Durham District School Board, Durham Catholic District School Board, Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board all have schools which would have been impacted by a strike.
READ MORE: First Student Canada school bus drivers in Toronto in legal strike position
Before the deal was reached, school boards were told that in the event of a strike, the school bus operator would not have replaced drivers, nor would the school boards have contacted another bus company to service the routes.
School Bus Update for First Student Brooklin/First Student Ajax and Unifor 4268 Contract Negotiations are currently posted on https://t.co/jzXIQ9Xs8s (Durham Student Transportation Services): https://t.co/PMAzl3f2N7
— DurhamDSB (@DurhamDSB) November 28, 2017
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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