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School bus strike averted

November 29, 2017

Toronto – Unifor Local 4268 has reached a tentative first agreement with First Student Canada in Ajax and Brooklin, averting a strike set to begin Thursday morning.

“This is good news for drivers, and good news for parents,” said Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director.

“We have reached a deal that addresses our key concerns, and better reflects the hours drivers actually work.”

The main sticking point in the talks was unpaid time for the drivers at the beginning and the end of their shifts. Drivers are not paid for the time driving from the depot where they pick up their buses until they pick up their first students, and are not paid for the time needed to inspect buses in the morning or scrape ice from the windows.

Full details of the new collective agreement will be released after a ratification to be held in the coming days. Unifor issued a strike notice last Friday, well ahead of the required 72 hours’ notice, for 12:01am Thursday.

“When you count up all the hours worked and the pay they receive, they are working for less than minimum wage,” Rizvi said. “It’s a full time commitment for part time pay.”

The drivers at First Student Ajax and First Student Brooklin serve approximately 10,000 students at the Durham District School Board, the Durham Catholic District School Board, the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud. This involves schools in the Ajax, Brock, Oshawa, Pickering, Scarborough, Scugog, Uxbridge and Whitby areas.

Unifor Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery said the unpaid hours makes it difficult for bus companies to recruit new drivers, which leads to shortages such as at the Toronto school boards last year.

“The best way to recruit new drivers is to treat them fairly,” Montgomery said. “We love driving buses, and deserve to be paid for all the hours we work. That’s only fair.”

Montgomery said the bargaining committee unanimously recommended the deal for ratification.

Unifor has several other collective agreements with other First Student outlets, but this is a first contract for this group of 260 drivers.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.