After failing to reach an agreement with Metrolinx, around 2,200 Go Transit workers have gone on strike.
The news was confirmed by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587 on Sunday, and the strike came into effect this morning at 12:01 a.m. As it currently stands, there is no GO Bus service anywhere in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, as all GO Bus operators, transit safety officers, station attendants, and coach technicians have walked off the job. GO Trains will continue to operate as usual.
A press release from ATU Local specified that the Go Transit workers voted “overwhelmingly” to reject Metrolinx’s latest contract offer this weekend, and that the latest negotiations hinged on certain safety concerns from GO Transit workers, which reportedly remain unaddressed. Metrolinx “continues to refuse to budge on language that would protect GO Transit jobs from being contracted out,” according to the release.
“Negotiations have failed because Metrolinx failed to come to the table with a reasonable offer to address any of our key issues,” said Local 1587 President Rob Cormier. “Protections against contracting out are imperative to ensure that experienced workers are on the job running GO Transit safely and efficiently. Without these protections, Metrolinx can contract to outside companies which will hire inexperienced workers in precarious, non-union positions.
“We have had enough -- starting Monday, we will walk the picket lines until we reach an agreement that protects job security for our current and future members. However, we remain committed to meeting with Metrolinx to reach a deal that addresses our concerns and other issues to ensure a safe and reliable transit system for our riders.”
And it seems that “strike” is the theme of the fall.
On Friday, 55,000 school support workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), walked off the job in opposition to the controversial Bill 28.
The Bill, which enacts the Keeping Students in Class Act, 2022, “limits the jurisdiction of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, arbitrators and other tribunals to make certain inquiries or decisions. It also provides for there to be no causes of action or proceedings against the Crown for certain acts. Certain proceedings are deemed to have been dismissed.”
In other words, workers have been provincially prohibited to strike, and the current walk-out has been deemed illegal by the provincial government. Premier Doug Ford has since stated that he is willing to repeal the Bill if CUPE calls off the strike and workers return to their schools.
However, there's more to the story. CUPE workers are also protesting a wage freeze under Bill 124, under which “salary increases are limited to one per cent for each 12-month period” for all public employees. As such, GO Transit workers are also subject to the wage cap.
“Our Union joins the entire Ontario labour movement in a common fight against a government who would rather destroy vital public services and strongarm workers than negotiate a contract ensuring safe transit service and offering workers the dignity they deserve,” said ATU International President John Costa. “Our Union uses a full strike only as a last resort since we don’t want to abandon our riders who depend on us. But Metrolinx has left us with no other option. We will stand together in solidarity until we win.”