Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Open Letter to the Access Bus drivers

I have been watching the coverage of this strike with increasing dismay. To start with the driver's said they wanted a lunchroom, a better definition of an employee, and an improvement of the grievance procedure. But what surprised me is that no monetary demands were expressed. While I agree that the other issues are important and needed to be addressed, I had a hard time understanding that you chose to take strike action which would take away the rights of the passengers to take part in the day-to-day activities of life.

Sadly this strike action has resulted in a major loss to the service that will never be recovered when you go back to work. This is because the school board contract was lost resulting in a big enough funding cutback that it can only mean a severe cut back to the service.

The drivers would like to have us think that losing the school contract is a good thing; that it will mean more buses for the rest of us. But did you ever stop to think about how you are going to get paid? I don't have any recent financial statements, but I know at one point the school board was providing 13% of the annual funding for Access Bus. This was a huge amount to lose when you consider that the number of students who used the service represented only 1.25% of the overall number of registered passengers.

Now that the contract is gone, you sounded surprised when management said that some of the drivers would be losing their jobs. Then, when talks resumed last Wednesday and you expressed your monetary demands, you once again walked from the table when management rejected your request. Now I hear that your chief negotiator from the CAW, Mike Armstrong, will not be available to resume talks for another 2 weeks. I cannot believe it!! How do you expect to keep the respect and support of the passengers when your quest for personal comfort has resulted in so much loss to your passengers?

For years I have agreed that the bus driver wages should be brought more in line with the wages of a city bus driver, but now that the school board contract is gone, I can only ask, “what are you thinking?”

On the the news Geof said the city can do something; that they can end this whole thing right now. Check your facts. The Access Bus is a non-profit charitable organization. The only way the city can end this is to pull the contract and give it to Kingston Transit, which is a service the city does have some control over. This will not be easy considering it would mean transferring a whole fleet of buses to Kingston Transit and then sorting out seniority of bus drivers to determine who gets to keep their job and who will lose it.

It's time you face the reality that you are in one heck of a stalemate. Please check your facts and then figure out how to get the buses back on the road. I know people who are missing cancer treatments, and other vital medical services, because of this strike.

Be sure to view my other blogs:
Accessibility: http://wheelchairdemon.blogspot.com
Health Care: http://wheelchairdemon-health.blogspot.com

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