Unifor school bus driver’s locals are encouraged by many of the recommendations issued recently by the Ontario Auditor-General focusing on improvements to service quality, ensuring government accountability and better tracking the impact of driver turnover on safety.
Unifor Ontario Regional Director Katha Fortier says the Auditor General’s report on school transportation services raises important questions about service quality delivered under the current Request-for-Proposal (RFP), competitive-bidding, system – questions the union has raised as part of its provincial campaign, entitled Steering Clear: Avoiding the RFP Trap.
“In some instances, the Auditor-General has found that insufficient attention is being paid to the quality of service for school transit services and too much attention on low prices,” Fortier said.
Unifor Local 4268 President and school bus driver Debbie Montgomery faults the lowest-cost-wins approach to contract bidding on weaker safety standards, poverty-level wages, high turnover and low morale that workers in this industry continue to experience.
“The RFP system has caused a great deal of hardship on drivers,” Montgomery said.
The auditor also rebuked the Ministry of Education for not verifying whether a previously issued school bus driver “wage enhancement” was ever spent for its intended purpose.