TORONTO, May 25, 2015 /CNW/ - Following months of contract talks complicated by provincial procurement policies, Unifor has served formal strike notice to the First Student school bus company that drivers in Bowmanville will go on strike Thursday at noon if no deal is reached before then.
"Provincial polies have made bargaining in this sector difficult," said Unifor Staff Representative Len Poirier. "The secretive procurement policy for school buses causes a race to the bottom that has a direct impact on the bargaining table."
Unifor Local 4268 represents 150 school bus drivers serving schools in Bowmanville for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. The drivers have been without a contract since the beginning of the school year. The core issues at this location are scheduling and outstanding monetary issues.
"School Bus drivers fulfill a very important role in a student's school day, and have great responsibilities to perform under very tight time restraints and pressures," Poirier said.
Provincial government policy has made bargaining in the sector more difficult because of the added pressure put on operators to keep compensation levels low to win new routes.
Unifor has called on the Ontario government to reform the current Request for Proposal (RFP) process for handing out school bus contracts. In a report released at the start of the school year, Unifor said the RFP process has led to a race to the bottom on compensation, and abandoned bus routes.
To see Unifor's complete report, Steering Clear, and recommendations, as well as Unifor's deputations to a provincial panel examining the RFP process, go to Unifor.org/schoolbuscampaign.
Talks continue between Unifor and First Student for school bus drivers in Thornhill, where no strike deadline has been set.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including 22,000 in road transportation, and is the province's largest school bus workers' union. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.