School bus drivers working in Toronto and York Region have ratified a new collective agreement, after a rough start to the 2016-2017 school year.
Over 8,500 students in the Catholic and public schools boards Toronto found themselves without a ride, due to a shortage of drivers; parents were scrambling, in some cases, to find an alternate.
Unifor Local 4268, which represents 320 drivers with First Student bus company, says the new deal sets new standards which, if more widely adopted, could help prevent driver shortages in the future.
“This contract lays the groundwork for helping attract drivers to the industry, and to avoid future shortages by helping to retain drivers. For drivers who are members of Unifor in the Toronto and York Region, the job just got better. If drivers can receive EI over the summer, they are more likely to be available when school starts in the fall. That will help with driver retention and help prevent driver shortages” – Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery.
The deal, which was ratified by a vote of 75% , includes higher wages, and payment for drivers for all of the hours they are on duty, not just when kids are on board.
As well, all paid time will be Employment Insurance accredited, allowing these workers to qualify for EI benefits during periods of lay off.
“No child should be left on a curb when a school bus should be picking them up. I am proud of these drivers for working so hard to improve conditions in the industry in hopes that it never happens again.” -Unifor Assistant to the National Secretary-Treasurer Jenny Ahn.