Thursday, March 12, 2009

Feds to transit union: Obey work-to-rest rules

Transport minister John Baird has waded in to Ottawa labour relations with a move that is sure to upset the leadership of ATU 279. From a Canadian Press story:
The federal government is intervening again in an Ottawa municipal transit dispute by imposing federal hours-of-work rules on the city's bus drivers.
This comes after the transit union believed that issue -- limiting the length of drivers' shifts -- would be part of ongoing arbitration to settle outstanding issues left unresolved by the 53-day strike. More from the story:
[Baird] says such long shifts are clearly a safety issue and he can't see how people can object to a rule making 22 hours of work illegal.

"I've got an important responsibility to the safety not just of the travelling public, to the bus drivers themselves, other motorists, to pedestrians, to cyclists," he said.
The rules will take effect quite soon:

Baird said the new rules will be published in the Canada Gazette on Saturday and there will be 30 days for all sides to comment.

"We'll listen to what the parties and what the public has to say, but fatigue kills and I just simply in all good conscience couldn't sit by and do nothing," Baird said.


Anonymous said...

This should be interesting.

If the federal legislation is changed to remove the exemptions of municipal transit to federal work rest rules aimed at long distance truck drivers and intercity bus drivers (who normally drive at speeds well in excess of city 50 km/hr speeds on highways in mixed traffic not grade separated transitways), then it would put Ottawa, Gatineau and Windsor in very unique situations, since none of the provincially regulated municipal transit authorities have any such similar rules.

Indeed, one would need to check that the reason the feds granted the exemption in the first place was to ensure these three federally regulated municipal transit authorities would not be put at a "disadvantage" compared to all others.

Anonymous said...


At the time the exemption was granted we had a much smaller bus service and far less traffic on the roads. Also the effect's of fatigue on driving are far better understood now than when the exemption was granted.

The union has put it self in an awkward position. It keep's telling us how tough, demanding and stressful the job is. But want's us to believe that driver's can work massive overtime or greater than 14 hour shift's with no safety concerns.

Anonymous said...

The only day a driver can work a double shift is saturday, as part of a special agreement in the last contract. Why dont they just cancel that? Other than that the city doesnt currently offer shifts that are longer than 12 hours so there would be no issue.

Anonymous said...

My recommendation is to go back to the barging table and negotiate the scheduling issues! If the Union doesn’t like the scheduling changes the city is proposing, negotiate one that both parties can agree on.