Taking away our rights will not solve the TTC's fundamental problems, says Union President, Bob Kinnear
TORONTO, Dec. 16 /CNW/ - Toronto City Council will today be debating a motion to ask the Government of Ontario to designate the TTC an "essential service." The purpose of such a designation would be to ban strikes or lockouts if the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 and TTC management are unable to voluntarily settle on the terms and conditions of employment of a new collective agreement. The union is urging Council to reject this motion and instead focus of the real problems facing the TTC, particularly the chronic underfunding since the Conservative government of Mike Harris slashed provincial subsidies to the TTC in the mid-1990s.
"Taking away a fundamental right to free collective bargaining will do nothing to improve the TTC," says ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear. "It may make some people feel good but it will not put a single additional bus on the road or relieve the overcrowding and vehicle breakdowns that are the problems TTC riders most complain about.
"In fact, it will only make things worse by relieving politicians of their funding responsibilities by fostering the illusion that they have done something tangible by banning strikes."
Kinnear points out that although work stoppages get a hugely disproportionate share of media attention, the public is inconvenienced far more, and on a daily basis, by underfunding.
"For the past three decades, our members have been on the job 99.99 per cent of the time." says Kinnear.
"Since Joe Clark was Prime Minister in 1979, there have been only 13 days of TTC service lost to strikes, whereas TTC riders lose significant time on commutes every day because there are simply not enough vehicles to serve a population that has virtually doubled since then. Motorists are similarly inconvenienced because of intolerable road congestion caused by an underfunded TTC. Everybody is a victim of the failure of governments to properly fund transit but somehow, because of that 0.01 percent of service loss due to work action, the union is now the problem. People who think the TTC will improve by banning strikes are deluding themselves because they hate unions and cannot deal with both fiscal and physical realities.
"Since the night of the municipal election, I have publicly pledged to cooperatively work with Mayor Ford and the new Commission to address the many problems facing the TTC. Most of these problems are due to underfunding by senior levels of government and we will devote union resources to work in concert with the City to acquire the funding that we need to restore the TTC as one of the world's finest urban transit systems." Kinnear said.
"But it will be hard to work up much enthusiasm to cooperate with politicians who declare that transit workers are not entitled to the same employment rights under Ontario law that other workers have."
"We hope that cooler heads prevail in this debate and that we can jointly move forward to resolve the real issues plaguing public transit in Toronto."
For further information: For further information:
and to arrange an interview with ATU Local 113 President, Bob Kinnear, please contact Laura Ziemba (416-712-0412)