TORONTO, Sept. 2, 2014 /CNW/ - As another school year begins, Unifor has
today written to the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Education,
alerting them to serious problems with how school bus contracts are
awarded across the province, and is releasing a new report on the
"Parents need to trust that when they put their children on a bus in the
morning that everything is being done to ensure the best transportation
possible," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, whose letter was
sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne and Education Minister Liz Sandals this
morning. "Unfortunately, our research has found that the way school bus
contracts are handed out undermines that confidence."
Steering Clear: Avoiding the RFP Trap, an in-depth study by Unifor released today, argues that the current
Request for Proposal process for handing our school bus contracts in
Ontario undermines local democracy and could put children at risk. The
report links the province's RFP process to abandoned bus routes, the
closure of school bus yards and downward pressure on wages and working
conditions for the drivers. School boards have been left to scramble to
cover abandoned routes, while declining working conditions has led to
higher employee turnover.
"Having bus drivers who are familiar with their routes and the children
they are carrying is the best way to ensure children get to and from
school safely. That safety, however, is undermined by a procurement
policy that breeds instability in this important service," Dias says in
Unifor is calling on the Ontario government to make good on a promise to
conduct a thorough review of the RFP process, which must include an
assessment of the impact RFPs have had on wages and working conditions.
Unifor is also calling for more transparency among school transportation
consortia that administer the process on behalf on local school boards,
including bringing under the jurisdiction of the Freedom of Information
Act and the Ontario Ombudsman.
As well, Unifor is calling on the Auditor General to look into what
happened to a $10-million provincial Wage Enhancement payout made to
school boards in 2008 to boost wages for drivers, but which often never
made it to them, and for a provincial board to be set up to monitor the
impact of RFPs on wages and working conditions.
To see the letter to the Premier, the Steering Clear report and a summary of the report, please see the attached.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing
more than 305,000 workers, including more than 1,600 school bus drivers
in Ontario. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian
Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2014/09/02/20140902_C8141_DOC_EN_42568.pdf
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2014/09/02/20140902_C8141_DOC_EN_42569.pdf
PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2014/09/02/20140902_C8141_DOC_EN_42570.pdf
For further information:
Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.