Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kingston Access Bus Strike

Kingston Access Bus went on strike April 16, 2009 over working condtions. They haven't asked for money... yet. Instead, they're listing the following as their grievances:

  1. The definition of an "employee": Management does not recognize part-time employees as regular employees, therefore they get excluded from benefits and certain rights, which regular employees receive, even though most of them work full-time hours.

  2. Management refuses to post all rules and regulations, both past and present. How can one follow the rules if you are unsure of what they are? How can you be sure that the rule you are supposedly breaking, has been in existence and is not something which has just been made up for that incident?

  3. Access to the lunchroom for the evening drivers. The lunchroom is locked after 5pm so the evening drivers - some of which are female - are expected to eat their lunches alone in the bus if they don't have enough time to spend their break at home. With the City Anti-idling by-law they also cannot run the buses for heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer.
This means 3,600 registered passengers are basically stranded in their homes.

They are not able to get to work, school, medical appointments, out to buy groceries and other essentials, or simply to get out for a day. Further, Kingston does not have accessible taxi's.

A few of the city bus routes are accessible, but many can't use them for a variety of reasons. Some don't live near an accessible bus route, some have scooters that are too big to fit in the bus, and still others have health issues that make it impossible to ride a conventional city bus. For these people, there is no alternative but to stay home.

What gets to me is that the drivers aren't asking about money. They're asking to increase their level of comfort on the job. While I don't deny that this is important and I agree the drivers have a right to fair and equitable treatment, I find it hard to accept that by their strike action, they are forcing people with disabilities to go without the basic essentials of life or the very level of comfort that is being sought by the drivers.

The difference between the plight of the drivers and that of their passengers is that, at the end of the day, the drivers can go home to a different level of comfort than they have on the job. The passengers, who have to rely on their service, have no choice but to endure the hardship that is caused by the strike. I just don't get it. There has to be a better way.

To read the news coverage of this strike, please see the links below:

If you're interested in reading about strike, check out these news links:

Access Bus Strike: April 16, 2009 - The Kingston Whig Standard:

Acesss Bus Strike: April 16, 2009 - CKWS TV

Access Denied - Whig - April 17, 2009:

Access Bus Strike continues - Whig - April 18, 2009

Access Bus Strike: April 20, 2009 - CKWS

Access Bus Strike: April 27, 2009 - CKWS

Access Bus Essential For Some - Whig - April 28, 2009

Disabled Endure Hardship - Whig - April 29, 2009

Access Bus strands children - Whig - April 30, 2009:

Losing key contract - CKWS May 4:

Key Client Lost - Whig - May 5, 2009:

Employee's Want Fairness - Whig - May 6, 2009:

Give Access Bus drivers full-time status they deserve - Whig - May 6, 2009:

Access denied; Strike continues at Access Bus - Kingston This Week - May 7, 2009

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