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The OC Transpo strikers targetting university students

December 12, 2008 @ 12:59 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Transit strike

By now you’ve probably heard a lot about the strike by OC Transpo drivers. It’s had a lot of coverage in the media and many people have written about it in their blogs. (I walk to work, or I’d have written about the strike sooner.) Its result has been to significantly increase the number of cars on the road in a city that already has too many cars on the road. Some people are carpooling, which is good for the environment, but work schedules are suffering. And even with carpools, the average commute is still longer than what it was before the strike started. Some of my co-workers are spending the better part of two or three hours each day travelling to and from work.

City parking regulations are being eased up for non-metered parking so that people don’t have to run out and move their cars every hour or two and some additional parking lots have been opened by the city. Picketers are hampering access to some of the park-and-ride lots, which is only further reducing any chance of sympathy the drivers might have had.

About ten years ago they city gave the drivers the right to determine their own schedules. This means that drivers with lots of seniority get the choice shifts at the expense of the others. As well, it is contributing to something like $8 million a year in overtime. Because of certain guarantees in their contracts drivers can arrange their shifts such that they end up being paid more hours than they actually worked. The city has caught on to this and wants to retake control of the scheduling in an effort to reign in the costs. In return for this change, the city is willing to give each driver a $2000 bonus because the overall operating costs will be lower.  (You can see the city’s final offer at the City of Ottawa website.)

The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the drivers and other OC Transpo staff, has been vocal about their downtrodden drivers.  The annual increases being offered are higher than I’m getting as a civil servant, so I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for them. At least they’re keeping up with inflation. But the thing that really steams me comes from this quote:

“Most of the bus companies would never ever do anything that would be scabbing our members,” said Randy Graham international vice-president for the Amalgamated Transit Union Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll have to deal with it if it does occur. We have to do the things that we legally can do. And we will do it.”

You might think that this quote is referring to the City of Ottawa hiring scabs to drive buses while the union members are standing in the cold and you’d be wrong. Randy Graham is referring to the privately-operated shuttles the universities are operating to help their students get to their exams.

Yes, the Amalgamated Transit Union is targetting university students.

Classy, eh?

I’m sorry, but this single act is the reason why I will not respect an Amalgamated Transit Union strike line ever again. The universities have every right to run their own shuttles and the ATU has no right to block them.

Larry O’Brien is holding a press conference at 1:30pm today to talk about the strike. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say. Hopefully he’ll make it clear to the union that the drivers are welcome to stand in the cold for a long time.  Every week they’re on strike the city is saving a huge amount of money, so if they stay out long enough this might not be a bad thing.

9 Responses to “The OC Transpo strikers targetting university students”


  1. SmakenDahed says:

    Having only done it one complete day, it took about 4 hours. Today was a little better because we weren’t carpooling (the person was off today).

    I’ve been leaving work a little early to dodge the traffic too… it’s not really working. Work is being understanding but I did also make up the time (and then some) at home.

  2. esmeralda says:

    I really find it hard to have any sympathy for the bus drivers. To target the students is cruel and unnecessary they have no part in this and they have worked hard so they can take their exams. Not to let them get into the schools to do that is outrageous,I think the bus drivers and anyone who has a part in this strike should be fired and new people hired, maybe then they wouldn’t be so gungho to strike the next time.

  3. I think that they have a right to strike for whatever seemingly selfish reasons they have. But do we not then have a right to picket them picketing? I’m serious.

    At the moment no social ramifications are being felt by these bus drivers, they are being hurt so they are on strike. We’re also hurt so we should let them know how we feel. They need to know where they fit into the social scheme of things and what its costing people.

    • gordon says:

      While they may have the right to strike, they do not have the right to block students going to their exams or using the privately operated shuttles the universities are running.

      At the moment no social ramifications are being felt by these bus drivers, they are being hurt so they are on strike.

      I’m unconvinced that the bus drivers are being “hurt”. If you’re referring to the fact that they’re having to make do with strike pay rather than their usual salary, tough. No one forced them to walk off the job. If they want their usual pay then they can go back to work.

  4. Jackson Pollack says:

    I hope their (strikers’) families fucking starve this holiday season! Fuckers!

  5. Ray Pollock says:

    I believe the Ottawa Transit Authority should terminate all the bus drivers and then rehire the required new drivers or old drivers who are willing to work.

    I have zero sympathy for this selfish attitude displayed by these people. It is unjustified and is hurting a lot of people who have no choice but to use the transit system each day.

  6. Seb says:

    This outrageous!!!, i’ve had to move 30 km closer to my work just so i can get a ride. i lost one week’s worth of work. And now its costing me 10 times as much to get around in a cab!!. If the buses run again i’m just going to start jumping on in the back of the bus to get back the money they have cost me!. Good luck to everyone thats in the same situation!. And i hope oc workers freeze theyr buts outside with theyr stupid pickets thru christmas eve!!

  7. Mike says:

    This stupid strike is costing people alot of money and wasted time. It is irresponsible of the Government to let this strike go on for as long as it has. I make $1900 a month total after taxes. Being fortunate to get a ride into work each morning still costs me $15-17 to get home each night. Now this does not seem like much per day but added up each week is $80ish. Thats the price of a bus pass per MONTH. Who is going to cover this costs? Thats $320 a GD month. Do the math and that is crazy. I am so broke because of this that I am pulling from my saving to get to work just to lose an hour in pay a day. Our Canadian Government has to smarten the hell up and FURTHER more the Bus Drivers have got to stop being so stelfish and get back to work. The Hardship is hurting over 10,000 a day versus the 2200+ drivers they have.

    Get back to work because you are causing more problems in the long term.

  8. anonymous says:

    The City should start hiring new drivers, and start running into major road like 95, 97. And for the mechanics and maintenance. Isnt lots of major car dealers closed/closing and most of them i guess are jobless..Well..well…there we go…maybe we should start contacting those people. And for the those strikers…well..since they are out of job for almost a month. We might as well FIRE THEM ALL!!! Start now!



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