Ontario school bus drivers ratify collective agreements

New deal ends three-day strike for about 120 workers

Ontario school bus drivers ratify collective agreements
Both agreements include signing bonuses and the union also achieved access to paid education leave. GOOGLE STREET VIEW

School bus drivers at First Student Canada and Parkview Transit in Ontario — members of Unifor locals 4268 and 1285 — voted on March 25 to accept new collective agreements.

"Unifor worked diligently to achieve significant gains in these two contracts as part of the union's ongoing work to raise standards for school bus drivers across Ontario's student transportation sector," said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president.

Unifor Local 4268 represents more than 120 employees at First Student in Bowmanville, Ont. The drivers voted 94.5 per cent in favour of a new three-year agreement, officially ending a three-day bus strike. Full service to schools in the Durham and Kawartha regions in Ontario will resume on March 26, said the union.

"These were difficult negotiations but the drivers stood firm in the demand for compensation that matches their responsibilities," said Debbie Montgomery, Unifor Local 4268 president. "This contract achieved a major pay raise, with more than a 15 per cent increase in year one, as well as a significant reduction in unpaid work."

The Parkview Transit drivers — new members of Unifor Local 1285 — voted in favour of a first collective agreement that will cover approximately 450 drivers in the Brampton, Ont., region. The three-year contract delivers a 17 per cent average wage hike in year one and also contains a significant key-to-key pay structure, according to Unifor.

"This is a major gain for these drivers and will help to address the ongoing practice of unpaid driving time in the industry," said Vito Beato, first vice-president of Unifor Local 1285.

Both agreements include signing bonuses and the union also achieved access to paid education leave and Unifor's groundbreaking women's advocate program, which trains representatives in the work environment to assist women with issues of harassment, intimate violence and abuse.

"For too long driving a school bus has been treated as a hobby occupation but make no mistake, it's work and it's hard work," said Naureen Rizvi,  Unifor Ontario regional director. "As Ontario's school bus driver's union Unifor will continue to fight for respect and fair treatment for our members."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.

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