Apparently the fear of losing their jobs if they lose their cool and blow up at passengers is grounds for threatening a strike, at least according to the president of Local 279 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents OC Transpo bus drivers.
“With the flick of my fingers, we could end up with having the buses not being out on the road” –ATU 279 president Garry Queale
I heard that priceless quote on CBC’s morning show as I was getting ready to head to work this morning and it’s in a story on CBC’s website, too.
In the last week there have been there have been at least three incidents where OC Transpo drivers have behaved completely unprofessionally towards passengers and at least two of them have had repercussions for the drivers:
Most people would probably agree that bus drivers don’t have the easiest of jobs. While they are well-paid, they take the brunt of the complaints and abuse from passengers unhappy with the service for whatever reason, even if it’s beyond the driver’s control, such as the recent changes to the bus routes in Ottawa. Even with this, many bus drivers put up with it and strive to provide good customer service so they can take pride in their work. But this doesn’t seem to be true for every bus driver, as evidenced by the list above.
Contract negotiations between ATU 279 and OC Transpo are scheduled to start December 8th. ATU 279 reportedly is interested in improving workplace conditions instead of salary, but the fact that they’re already threatening to strike suggests that perhaps the union’s negotiation strategy is based on threats and intimidation rather than genuine negotiation. Someone should remind them how that worked out for the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organizaton (PATCO) in 1981 when they tried something like this. (Hint: On August 5th, 1981 unemployment in the US increased by 11,345 people.)