Transit Union Calls for Greater Protection for Workers

Confederation College
Thunder Bay Transit Bus

THUNDER BAY / OTTAWA – “As COVID-19 continues to spread across Canada, frontline workers in Public Transit have been forgotten and remain at risk,” says Canada’s largest transit union, ATU Canada.

The union says that transit workers have not been provided personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves – yet they continue to work – moving the general public including essential workers in healthcare, emergency services, grocery, pharmacy and other deemed essential services.

Here in Thunder Bay, transit drivers have told NetNewsLedger there are concerns as well of people drinking and sleeping on the buses. Passengers have to load from the back door of the buses, meaning drivers don’t get the opportunity to see what a passenger is carrying or to see if the person is heavily intoxicated. There have also been a few reports of fights on buses.

“Public Transit employees have no way to protect themselves and have a right to protective masks and gloves, just like other public service workers,” said ATU Canada President, John Di Nino.

Canada’s largest transit union has launched a National Petition calling for the General Public to Stand with Canadian Transit Workers – by taking immediate action to sign the petition – sending a strong message to Ottawa to protect the workers that move this country.

“Public Transit across the nation is suffering from a drastic reduction in riders as people are encouraged to stay at home until COVID-19 is under control – and this will lead to service reductions and lay-offs,” Di Nino continued. “Public Transit operations rely on the farebox and without those fares, the system will be devastated and unsustainable – but the immediate issue is keeping our workers safe.”

A Call for Help!

Di Nino has sent a letter to the Cabinet Committee on COVID-19 calling for help to keep workers safe, and emergency funding to save the nation’s Public Transit system which is a vital service for millions of Canadians. Furthermore, the union demands immediate redirection of at least $5 billion from the Canadian Infrastructure Bank to support a National Transit Strategy with dedicated operational funding for all Canadians.

“Immediate action is required – and we need help from both Federal and Provincial Governments working together to maintain payroll in the transit industry through comprehensive stimulus packages,” the letter states.

ATU Canada represents 34,000 transit professionals in motor coach, public transit, private contractors, vehicle operations and maintenance work across Canada. ATU Canada is part of ATU International, which has over 200,000 union members across North America.    

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union