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New school bus sector review and fund positive steps in tackling precarious work

December 15, 2017

TORONTO - Unifor is calling the newly announced provincial review of the school bus sector good news for those working in the industry and the students who rely on the services each day.

The Ontario government announced this afternoon that it would be conducting a public review starting in January to improve the student transportation system in Ontario. The review will focus on four main areas: safety and well-being for students, equity in transportation services, responsiveness to student needs and accountability in service delivery. Additionally, the government announced a $60 million dollar fund that will go directly towards school bus drivers to help support recruitment and retention in the industry.

“For the last number of years, Unifor has been raising the difficult working conditions in the school bus sector, including unpaid work time, contract flipping and low wages,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “We’re pleased to see the province starting to address these issues as part of a larger approach in tackling precarious work.”

The union recently settled a new contract with First Student in Toronto and the Durham Region, eliminating unpaid driving time. Unifor’s Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rivzi said that while the union is making gains in collective bargaining to improve jobs in the sector, the core issue remains the lack of sustainable funding, creating a cycle of instability for drivers and students alike.

“Safely transporting our children to and from school is an important service and it should be accorded the due respect,” said Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi. “We expect the issue of ongoing, stable funding to be addressed as part of the review, as well as the low wages paid to drivers.”

Unifor represents more than 2,000 school bus drivers across Ontario. The union will be participating in the review process in the New Year.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.