First rant of the year ;o)

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Bassetluv

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Well, this one has to do with OC Transpo, our public transit here in Ottawa. I rely on the bus to go to work every day, to go shopping, get groceries (sometimes), etc. On Dec. 10th the Amalgamated Transit Union representing bus drivers, mechanics and dispatchers voted to go on strike, issues concerning scheduling of drivers being at the forefront, I believe. Negotiations began, deals were offered, workers were being given adjusted schedules, pay raises factored in over the next 3 years (3.25, 2, and 2 percent pay increases), two more sick days added on per year, etc. (They already have a pretty good benefit and retirement pkg in place, and are already highly paid.)

Anyway, the city was in talks with the union but the union kept rejecting offers and walking away, holding out for more. Finally the city called in the minister of labor to intervene, asking her to order the union to take a vote to accept the latest offer...and she finally did. But the union is reported to be urging its members to vote not to accept the offer. If they do, the strike could potentially go on for months.

For me, I'm upset because this strike has affected countless thousands of people. I'm fortunate in that I can commute with my sister to work - we both work at the same place - but even if I couldn't, it is potentially within walking distance (about 50-55 minutes' walk on a summer day). But this strike is affecting others deeply. Within the first week of the strike commuters who normally would take 30-40 minutes to get to work via car were spending upwards of 2-3 hours on the road, traffic was so gridlocked. Some businesses are saying they are going to go under because of loss of revenue - many of their customers cannot get to their stores without public transit; others are losing jobs because they work shifts and cannot find rides to get to work every day; senior citizens who rely on public transit for drs appts, going to the grocery store, etc. are affected. In Toronto when public transit workers went on strike last year, within a week they were ordered back to work because they are considered an essential service. Here? Because one of OC Transpo's routes crosses the bridge and goes to Quebec, the law dictates that the service falls under Federal jurisdiction rather than provincial, thus they cannot be deemed an essential service under provincial law. (Insert another, bigger ARRRGG!!!) All I can say is, I hope they get this resolved soon. AND I really hope the gov't will be brave enough to get around political logistics to designate OC Transpo an essential service once and for all. In the 20 years I've lived here, they've threatened strike action at least 5 times, and this is the 3rd time they've walked off the job, thus crippling the city and hurting a great many citizens.

Okay, end of rant. :p




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degrassi

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I'm with you on that one. My sister lives in Ottawa(napean) and her husband needs to take the bus into downtown to work. Now he has to try and find a car pool to hitch a ride with and it takes him WAY longer to get to work as the traffic is so bad now. They do have a car he could take but there is NO parking to be found so that doesn't work either.

Hopefully things get settled soon and the buses get back on the road.
 

Bassetluv

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Yes, parking (which has always been a bit of an issue in this city) has become ridiculously hard for motorists to find since the strike began. And it's hard to have to rely on someone else for transportation as well; schedules have to be adjusted and when you're the one who needs the ride, you start to feel like you're imposing after a while. I just get angry because I get tired of the public being held for ransom over disputes like this, especially in these economic times when people are already losing jobs and going bankrupt, and the workers at OC Transpo have what's considered pretty lucrative employment, considering the level of education needed. Mind you, I do acknowledge that for the bus drivers, their job is not easy, having to deal with all sorts of situations...but still, right now there isn't a lot of sympathy when so many are simply glad to have a job at all.

LOL...I guess what set off my rant was a series of small things, since the strike has already been on for a while now. First, when this all began the union stated how much they appreciated the public's assistance in finding alternate transportation during the strike, and they are trying to be sensitive to the public and keep disruptions to a minimum...while that doesn't sound upsetting, the way it was worded made it sound as if the public was backing the strike. Then a little while ago I was at my sister's house and decided to go across the street to the local mall, one of the main ones in the area. The only way to enter the mall from that side is to walk down a long tunnel, which is where public transit runs into the mall and shares the mall entrance; it's about a 5-6 minute walk from her house. Otherwise, one would have to go around the mall...waaaaaaay around, because of the way the roads are set up...which would mean a walk of 20-25 minutes just to go into another entrance. So I went through the tunnel and reached the stairs to head into the mall, and found that there had been barrier tape erected with a sign posted by the union stating that it was closed to the general public. Of course others had gone that route as well before me and tore the barrier tape down. There was no reason for the union to have closed down that entrance to the mall, other than to disrupt the public.

But the final thing that got to me was this final thing: on Boxing Day the city was set to host the Junior World Hockey Championships. This tournament was set to draw in over 25,000 visitors to Ottawa, generating around $40,000,000 to the city. People were coming from all over the world for this event, and what did the transit union decide to do? They set up mass picket lines to disrupt the games. From what I understand, the city stepped in rather quickly and stopped the major disruption...but where was the union's compassion in "trying to be sensitive to the public and keep disruptions to a minimum"? What purpose would picketing a hockey championship have done? Had the union been able to follow through by setting up impassable picket lines, I suspect there would have been some very serious injuries incurred, as people are not sympathetic to their cause, and fuses have become very short.

On the flip side though, I do feel badly for many of the bus drivers who are caught up in all of this. Whenever the buses do finally get back on the road, the drivers are sure to be met with an immense amount of vile comments and angry citizens...yet I'm sure many of them did not want this in the first place; they are simply caught up in the greed and politics of a heavy-fisted union.


 

wabbitmom12

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Bassetluv wrote:
On the flip side though, I do feel badly for many of the bus drivers who are caught up in all of this. Whenever the buses do finally get back on the road, the drivers are sure to be met with an immense amount of vile comments and angry citizens...yet I'm sure many of them did not want this in the first place; they are simply caught up in the greed and politics of a heavy-fisted union.
Yeah, I think that many times unions claim to stick up for "the little guy", or "the working man", but end up running all over management (and in this case, the public), in a way that embarasses the union members.
 

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