OTTAWA, Feb. 16, 2015 /CNW/ - The adoption of Bill S-221 today by the House of Commons is an important step towards protecting front-line transit operators, says Unifor. The union has been working with all parties in both the Senate and the House of Commons to win amendments to the Criminal Code to include options for stiffer penalties for those convicted of assaulting drivers.
"Everyone should be safe at work," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Bus and taxi drivers provide a very valuable public service, and they shouldn't have to face violence in their workplace."
Bill S-221 amends the Criminal Code to require judges to consider a transit driver's occupation as an "aggravating circumstance" in sentencing.
"Workplace health and safety is a non-partisan issue, and we're thrilled that every party could get behind Bill S-221," said Nathan Woods, a transit operator in Vancouver and President of Unifor Local 111. "Many transit operators have suffered horrible assaults. We can do more to improve their safety, but this is an important step."
Woods testified in 2014 to Senate committee that approximately 2000 bus driver assaults are reported each year in Canada. Canadian taxi drivers had the highest rate of occupational-related homicide in the country in 2011, higher than police officers.
Unifor says that changes to the Criminal Code alone will not eliminate workplace assaults. For example, Local 111 is working with the employer in Metro Vancouver to implement a trial period with a safety shield between drivers and passengers. Combined with a "Violent Incident Prevention" program to identify potentially violent situations and strategies to defuse them, transit operators are actively involved in shaping workplace health and safety.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.
Image with caption: "Abdi Mohamed is a taxi driver in Ottawa who was violently assaulted on the job. (CNW Group/Cole Burston)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150216_C5331_PHOTO_EN_12197.jpg
For further information: please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at 778-903-6549 (cell) or Ian.Boyko@Unifor.org