Brantford paratransit workers set to strike over "incompetent" private sector management

    BRANTFORD, ON, Sept. 25 /CNW/ - The union that represents workers at the
privately-run Operation Lift Inc. (OLI) will be on strike as of 12:01 a.m.
Monday if no settlement is reached by 2:00 p.m. Sunday.
    Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 685 has been negotiating for a
first collective agreement with OLI since March of this year.
    "Our union has never dealt with such incompetent transit management as
there is at OLI," said Larry Kinnear, ATU International Vice President.
    "The disabled who need transit are being poorly served despite the best
efforts of the operators and dispatchers. OLI management policies on ride
reservations and other issues are highly restrictive, needlessly so. Our
members take the heat for management's shortcomings."
    Brantford taxpayers subsidize the service at the rate of about
$1.2 million a year. The union is saying that the city should take over the
service and conduct a forensic audit of OLI's books.
    "We're not accusing anyone of theft, just incompetence," said Kinnear.
"We don't think the taxpayers are getting value for their money and we see no
hope that this will change with OLI.
    "Both the disabled and Brantford taxpayers would be better off if the
city took over this service."
    Kinnear says the union has asked to meet with the OLI Board of Directors,
chaired by Fred Reitsma, who is also Treasurer of Brant United Way, but that
Acting Director Manager Tina Topper has refused to allow such a meeting.
    "We believe that the Board does not know the sorry state of OLI
operations," says Kinnear. "If they knew what is actually going on, they might
agree with us that this important public service should revert to the city
that pays the bills."
    Other unresolved issues involve working conditions and wages. OLI
Operators at the top of the wage scale are paid four dollars an hour less than
Brantford Transit Operators. The union is not seeking wage parity with the
publicly operated system in this contract but feels it is time to start
closing this unusually wide gap.
    In the event of a strike, the union will provide transportation for
dialysis patients, as is the practice of the ATU throughout Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Larry Kinnear, (202) 309-4120

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