This blog has touched on anxiety related to treatment of OC Transpo bus drivers after the strike, now in its 35th day, eventually comes to an end.
On that note, a couple of concerning stories have appeared in local media over the past few days. The first example is a Jan. 12 piece in the Ottawa Citizen, and the second can be found on today's Ottawa Sun comment page (right-side column).
The Citizen story, entitled "A very different strike in 1919", compared the current strike to a labour stoppage 90 years ago that involved a few hundred striking members of Local 279 of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electrical Railway Employees of America (now known as the Amalgamated Transit Union).
As the title suggests, the article looks at some significant differences between the two strikes, and it includes the conduct of both drivers and passengers as service resumed. Below are the closing paragraphs (emphasis ours):
Now, on to the next story. The Sun ran an op-ed written by Algonquin College journalism student Andrew Sztein, entitled "Open minds will get buses moving".
On July 18, union members voted 309 to 138 to accept the deal. "The sentiment was freely expressed among the strikers," the Citizen reported, "that it was better to admit defeat and preserve the street railwayman's organization than to fight on hopelessly and smash the union."
Service resumed July 19, on Peace Day, a public holiday. By 9 a.m., service was "as near normal as possible," according to the Citizen. The public mood was upbeat. "The average man stepped onto the street with a jaunty air again," the newspaper reported.
There was little ill-will toward the strikers, who received nods and smiles from their customers. "And nods and smiles were returned," the Citizen said.
We'll have to see if that proves to be yet another difference between the current walkout and the strike of 1919.
Sztein rants for several hundred words in a half-sarcastic tone, but he included the following passage (again, emphasis ours):
Give the drivers their scheduling demands, but institute automated punch clocks on the buses. It's simple, if the bus isn't in motion for more than a designated time (say five minutes), the system automatically punches the driver out and their shift continues upon restart of the engine. (Let me be clear -- I'm not suggesting the driver be physically punched out, despite the wishes of several Ottawa residents.)Neither of these stories incites any kind of violence, of course, but the above-quoted passages don't contribute much to any debate. The former quotation is speculative and baseless, while the second is -- in this writer's opinion, anyway -- flippant, given the very real potential for violence, even in isolated cases, after the strike.
This kind of writing isn't necessarily irresponsible, but neither is it very constructive.
What do readers think?