Labour briefs

Bombardier workers at GO Transit ratify new collective agreement / Union spurns Toronto Mayor Ford’s response to bomb threat

Bombardier workers at GO Transit ratify new collective agreement

TORONTO — Bombardier workers operating GO Transit ratified a new collective agreement, after 20 months of bargaining.

The new agreement — which is set to expire at the end of 2017 — will see a wage increase of 12.33 per cent over the life of the contract.

Other standard and operational clauses, including annual vacation and train maintenance, were also improved.

"The negotiation was far from easy but we absolutely wanted to avoid any interruption of service for the users while negotiating a contract that was fair for the workers," said George MacPherson, general chairman for Division 660 of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents Bombardier employees.

The expansion of the shuttle service between Pearson Airport and Union Station in Toronto created 65 new positions. In addition to that, outsourcing will be gradually reduced and eventually eliminated.

"Expansion of service to commuter rail is considerable and the creation of good paying, unionized jobs is a positive development for Ontario workers," MacPherson said. "This agreement provides stability to the travelling public and the workers within the commuter rail industry in Ontario, and provides a fair and decent increase for the Teamsters membership."

Union spurns Toronto Mayor Ford’s response to bomb threat

TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford received a bomb threat at City Hall that was diffused inappropriately and irresponsibly, according to the union representing city staffers.

The threat — which was made on Aug. 11 and warned City Hall would "blow" if Ford didn’t resign — was followed by a media scrum, which the Canadian Union of Public Employees said jeopardized the safety of city hall employees.

In response to the incident, CUPE Local 79 filed a policy grievance and announced its intention to assist members wishing to file individual grievances against the city.

Mayor Ford brushed off the grievance, saying he followed protocol and diligently followed instructions from security.

According to the union, however, the swiftly put together press conference was a direct violation of policies put in place to handle these potentially dangerous situations.

"From the moment media were first alerted to the existence of a purported bomb threat, there flowed a complete breakdown of policies and procedures to deal with such threats," said Tim Maguire, president of CUPE Local 79, who added that the move is not politically motivated.

"It is not acceptable for policies governing employee health and safety to be infected by the same flagrant and casual disregard for the rules that seem to be a way of life in some quarters of City Hall these days."

CUPE Local 79 also intends to petition the Ministry of Labour to conduct an investigation and determine whether the city adhered to its own policies and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

"Our members are entitled to expect and have every right to expect a structured rational response to threats, particularly when those threats could have an impact on their well-being," Maguire added.

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