Metro Transit strike in Halifax is pending, come Sunday Jan 22nd, 2012 from 9 am till 6 pm there will be a vote at the Holiday Inn over the contract that the city is offering the ATU. The ATU have been trying to hash out the proposed changes to the ATU’s contract, some 300 different demands and changes have been set forth and the union also made a few of their own, but it seems both the ATU and the City have come to an impasse and the talks have stalled causing this strike vote to be called. Ken Wilson president of Local 508 of the Amalgamated Transit Union is the spokes person for the workers of Metro transit and is suggesting a rejection to the new proposal, which it was with a 98% vote to strike if the city couldn’t come up with a better contract, as he and those who work for Metro Transit doesn’t agree with many of the changes listed and much to the union’s dismay the city has neglected to even compromise. The Local 508 do not want pay increases; they don’t even want to strike, they are just looking to keep many of the incentives that Metro workers were given years ago, a strike isn’t something they want but it looks like they will be forced to in order to wake up our city’s Mayor Peter Kelly.
Local 508 represents almost 800 bus drivers, ferry operators, mechanics, maintenance staff and receiver’s office employees whose contract expired Sept. 1. Metro Transit’s buses and ferries carry about 90,000 passengers a day, a strike will leave many people scrambling to get to jobs and classes, some who don’t have alternative resources will lose jobs, and sadly some senior will be house bound many without a secondary way to get to Dr appointments could end up hospitalized costing the city even more in the long run. With potential job losses EI claims could sky-rocket and with the EI offices already at a loss in employees working the claims departments this means many people will have to rely on welfare making that cost rise in the local area, 6 weeks after a strike starts (As it takes the welfare office six weeks to process a claim) All of this just to make ends meet, just so they can feed children and keep a roof over their heads till their EI claims manage to get processed, some taking as long as six (6) months! I speak from experience with the EI issues having had to wait 4 months for my own maternity leave claim to be processed. More people will be relying on food banks as well waiting for welfare or EI claims, some may lose their power as well ALL of this is a possibility all over this pending strike…It’s a scary concept!
I’ve heard a few people on the bus state –
“Oh the drivers are just greedy looking for more money and a hand out. They get paid enough now as it is and they are rude!”
Little does the public know thou it’s NOT a hand out or a pay increase that the transit drivers are looking for, in actuality they just want to be able to keep their full-time jobs, and their vacation times, not to mention their benefits that they worked so hard to get, but Peter Kelly is looking to phase in over time more part-time workers which will apparently save the city money as they won’t have to cover the medical insurances and or even pensions. He’s also looking to contract out the work to private companies so that if the drivers aren’t available there’s back ups, but the problem with that is private companies can use part-time employees and again the pensions and the medical insurances all the current drivers have would be lost over time. Drivers aren’t rude but even they can take only so much, on a daily basis they have to deal with drunken people puking on their bus, people throwing trash and vandalizing their bus, teen who are rude who swear and spit on them. Other get on the bus wearing so much perfume they could be considered a damn sample pack at shoppers! Others just plain stink… believe me when I’ve had to sit by someone who hasn’t showered it SUCKS… Some are working 12-14 hours a day and don’t complain. Drivers work hard, and many are damn good drivers and courteous and yet the city wants to take away a LOT of the things the drivers were given years ago, they want them to work 24 hours a day, they want to cut vacations, and make senior drivers work longer harder hours and take the new drivers and put them to part-time… do you REALLY think that senior drivers are going to put up with 18 hour shifts? NO way! Families, and seniors rely on this cheaper form of transportation and Mayor Peter Kelly wants to take away things from civil workers and then make them work harder? How would you like it if someone took away all you worked for and then be told, well you HAVE to work harder for nothing? I can’t see it happening no matter WHO you are.
Mayor Peter Kelly is being thoughtless, He needs to smarten the up and learn to do his job right, this isn’t occupy NS, he can’t go around saying one thing and then go back on his word and be hurting people just because he “can” … cause if he does he won’t be in office long. Families are going to be torn apart; people could lose their homes, their lively hoods. So don’t call drivers “retarded, rude, or lazy” All they expect is to be treated with respect to! If Mayor Peter Kelly is that stupid to see that this strike will cost more in the long run then he will deserve it when he’s forced out of office for this.
I’ve overheard complaints about is that there will be a demand on the drivers to work longer shifts, but yet the city wants more part-time employed drivers, some even contracted out to private companies. (ALL drivers work full-time while other staff can be part-time such as maintenance) this means senior drivers will have to pick up the slack on 64 routes on a daily basis as the city would take the 300+ drivers that were recently hired and place them into the part-time positions even thou they were hired as full-time. This would leave the other 500+ drivers to work up to 18 full hours a day, leaving only 6 hours a day between rest periods even thou the unions agreement is that no driver will work over 16 hours with an 8 hour rest period except for on holidays where a driver didn’t work on the day before or will not be working the day after a recognised holiday, as doing so would and can be a cause for unsafe conditions… NOW as a commuter, think about it… would YOU want to be on a bus with a driver who has only had 6 hours sleep? I know I certainly wouldn’t want to be a passenger on a bus where that is possible…
Some of the other complaints I’ve heard is that drivers will lose incentives to be “courteous” as drivers receive a bonus if they get a call in for being polite and kind to their passengers… If you take away food from a person they get cranky… so take away a bonus for doing an exceptional job, what do the drivers have to work so hard to be kind for if they have no reason to be…I for one get a bonus when I am polite on the phone to my customers why should a bus driver be treated any differently? Civil workers like bus drivers are the back bone to the city, Metro transit is what makes this city “GO” without it…we’re just an overcrowded bunch of cranky people trying to get to jobs and school, with Metro transit down, there will be more accidents due to impatient people on the roads trying to get to where they are going. I pray that this strike can be adverted, for the sake of everyone who would be affected.
Mr. Kelly has NO idea what it’s like to struggle from day-to-day to get food on the table or to pay bills, he tends to go back on his word and has many times, look at Occupy Nova Scotia. I don’t see him taking a pay cut or working 24 hours a day like he expects some of the workers with Metro transit to do, how would he like it if he had stuff he worked for taken away from him just because someone over his head could take it.
One man who has a family member as a driver, said to me while we were talking on the bus over this, that he feels the Mayor is a “bully” and people only put up with so much from people who act like they are a “god” soon enough Mayor Peter Kelly will be on the side lines looking back thinking, “Damn I screwed up” It’ll serve him right to. Problem is it’s the drivers who will get the public’s backlash over the strike. The drivers will be blamed for the lack of services and the drivers will more than likely be forced to take a contract that will see many of those hired in the last year lose out on the incentives they had been hired on with be taken away from them. In all fairness, I think Mr. Kelly really needs to rethink his actions before this strike costs the city more than it’s worth.