TORONTO, Feb. 1 /CNW/ - Recent reports that three Toronto Transit
Commission Bus Operators have been terminated for using hand-held
electronic devices on the job have prompted a flood of media calls to
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 for comment.
ATU Local 113 has a longstanding policy of not commenting on internal
TTC disciplinary processes or legal proceedings related to individual
members. Accordingly, the union will not be publicly discussing the
status of these cases, either individually or collectively.
"We have said very clearly and very often in recent days that the use of
mobile phones or other hand-held communication devices while driving is
a safety hazard and is unacceptable to the union," says Bob Kinnear,
President of Local 113.
"The union does not condone this behaviour in any way, shape or form,
except in the case of clear emergencies, such as the reporting of a
crime or public hazard witnessed by the Operator. In such extenuating
circumstances, the vehicle must be stopped before the call is made."
Kinnear notes that the union has a legal obligation under the Ontario
Labour Relations Act to represent members charged with violating TTC
work rules or regulations, analogous to the right of any person accused
of violating the law to legal representation.
"The fact that we represent our members charged with infractions cannot
be taken to mean we condone the behaviour they are accused of. Defence
lawyers are not assumed to condone the acts their clients are charged
with and it is the same with union representation."
Kinnear added that these incidents are distressing to other TTC workers
who have experienced a spike in verbal assaults and insults as well as
"photo-stalking" encouraged by some media outlets.
"The overwhelming majority of our 10,000 members perform their jobs
safely and conscientiously every day under often difficult conditions.
It is extremely unfair to generalize the character of an identifiable
group, in this case TTC workers, from the actions of a very small
number but that is happening."
Kinnear also charged the media with selective indignation about public
"The media are actively inviting people to take pictures of TTC workers
who may be violating the law. But no media outlet has ever, to our
knowledge, asked people to take pictures of TTC workers being
assaulted, something that happens every day. It is certainly wrong to
text while driving a bus but it is also wrong, and criminally so, to
physically attack bus drivers. But maybe that doesn't sell as many
SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113
For further information:
Bill Reno, 416-223-7366