TORONTO – School bus drivers employed by the multinational operator Stock Transportation have overwhelmingly supported strike mandates, voting 94 per cent and 95 per cent in favour, due to contract negotiations not reaching a settlement.
“We will be working hard to resolve this impasse but at the end of the day these drivers have a huge responsibility and the employer, school boards and the provincial government need to recognize and appropriately compensate them for their work,” said Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi.
Unifor Local 4268 represents approximately 575 school bus drivers who provide services for TDSB, Franco Board, TDCSB and other customers in various locations in the GTA. Some or all of the customers may see service interruptions if the parties fail to come to a tentative agreement by Thursday May 2, 2019.
“Drivers are expected to fulfill various unpaid tasks before, between and even after their routes. This practice has become so widespread that driving a school bus is now partially volunteer work – instead of regular paid employment,” said Unifor Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery. “I don’t think this is a reasonable way to treat the people with whom we entrust our children. We endeavor to have each school bus driver paid for their working time.”
School bus drivers operate large commercial vehicles with a load of up to 70 children and assist students with special needs to attend programs or schools, all on a tight schedule. Many times, school bus drivers have multiple routes or destinations built into their schedule.
“Driving a school bus is a full time commitment for a part time job,” said Unifor Director of Road Transportation Len Poirier. “We are trying to enshrine a higher level of respect and dignity for these drivers as recruitment and retention in this industry continues to be a problem. It’s very troubling that the industry requires so much of these drivers, yet still refuses to compensate them for all their time.”
Stock Transportation drivers working under two collective agreements (Toronto East Division and Toronto North Division) are currently involved in this bargaining.