Union to appeal firing of Ottawa bus driver

Driver with 25 years’ service fired after verbal tirade goes viral

The union representing an Ottawa bus driver who swore at a passenger and was caught doing so on video is appealing his dismissal.

The head of OC Transpo, general manager Alain Mercier, told Ottawa councilors in a Nov. 14 memo the driver would be terminated from his job.

The union representing OC Transpo bus drivers, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 279, will grieve the decision.

In the video posted to YouTube, the bus driver verbally attacks a passenger as he stands at the front of the bus. The driver swears at him and threatens to punch him in the face.

President of ATU Local 279, Garry Queale, says he agrees the driver should receive some form of discipline, but that the firing is excessive. He says he expects the driver to get a job back with the City, but maybe not as a bus driver.

Queale says the driver hasn’t been disciplined since he started with the company over 25 years ago. He also recently lost both his mother and wife to cancer and a passenger spat on him two days prior to the incident.

The passenger, who describes himself as mildly autistic, has expressed remorse for his own behaviour that day and feels badly the driver was fired. He says he didn’t want the man fired and wanted only an apology.

Transit workers have been the subject of public scrutiny in Toronto recently, as well.

Earlier this year, complaints were made against a transit worker who allegedly relieved himself on the side of a building while transit riders looked on. An investigation into the matter didn’t lead to any conclusions as there was no proof of the incident.

In 2010, a Toronto transit toll collector was photographed asleep in his booth, receiving international attention. Subsequently, the man took medical leave for a heart condition and apologized for his action. However, he died months later of a stroke.

“It was not fair that he was subjected to relentless public derision in his last year of life,” said TTC union president Bob Kinnear at the time.

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