Ontario school bus strike averted

Unifor ratifies agreement with First Student

Unifor ratified a new contract with the First Student school bus company, averting a strike due to start May 21.

The three-year deal provides for wage increases of two per cent, two per cent and 1.5 per cent, retroactive to Sept. 1, 2014. The agreement also includes several improvements to contract language.

The 65 drivers — represented by Unifor’s Local 4268 — ratified the deal just hours before the midnight strike deadline.

In addition to serving schools in Port Elgin and Kincardine, the drivers also shuttle workers for shift changes at the Bruce Power nuclear plant.

On the heels of this deal, the union served notice to First Student of a possible strike beginning May 24 by 110 workers serving the Owen Sound and Wiarton areas. The affected employees include school bus drivers and city bus drivers.

Additionally, the union is calling on the Ontario government to review the province’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process for handing out school bus contracts. According to Unifor, the current process puts pressure on operators to keep compensation levels low to win new routes.

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