Montréal, November 9th 2017 – Yesterday night, at a general assembly in Montreal, 98 percent of the Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs de Transco–CSN (STTT–CSN) members voted by secret ballot in favour of a strike mandate. This mandate – to be carried out when deemed necessary – may be implemented from January 19th.
“For us, yesterday’s vote is a testament to our categorical refusal to let the employer lower our wages simply to increase its profit margin. The employer wants to lower our wages to meet the demand for increased profitability of US company First Student, which owns Transco. Yet our hourly rates do not even reflect our skills and responsibilities. We want a decent salary – not an increasingly diminishing salary,” said Carole Laplante, STTT-CSN President.
As of September 25th, the employer is requesting the following set backs: a 1.5 percent cut for the first year for regular bus drivers and a 2 percent cut for minibus drivers, which would create a new category of lower-paid employees not found in the current collective agreement. Before, pay scales remained the same regardless of vehicle driven. For the remaining four years of the future five-year agreement, the employer proposes to pay 50 percent of the CPI in salary increases, which is only half of what the school board pays them for this purpose.
A number of non-monetary clauses with no significant impact have already been settled at the beginning of bargaining, but all the other more important ones have been dealt with only superficially at the bargaining table. On October 30th, a conciliator was appointed by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The school transportation sector in the countryside
“This vote in favour of a strike comes at the same time as we are launching a campaign to promote the school bus driver profession. These women and men have been fighting for more than 20 years to gain recognition for their profession and to be paid the salary they deserve. In our community, we often say that we are paid less than garbage collectors, even though we’re transporting Quebec children to their learning environment,” said Stephen P. Gauley, President of the School Transportation Sector (STS) of the Fédération des employées et employés de services publics–CSN (FEESP).
As part of the campaign, the STS is asking the Quebec government to provide enhanced, dedicated and closed budget envelopes that will be used to increase wages and provide decent working conditions that recognize and respect their work. In a vote held tonight at a general assembly, the STTT-CSN unanimously supported this campaign.
“In April 2015, after a rigorous process reviewing the school bus driver profession in which the government and the carrier associations participated, the working committee set the minimum hourly rate at $19.14. This now translates to an indexed rate of $20.02 upon hiring, regardless of seniority. However, the average hourly rate is $17.86, marking a 12 percent difference with the reference salary established in the job review process, with no benefits or pension plan. Some carriers offer only $12.07 per hour upon hiring, which is completely unacceptable. The $20.02 per hour rate is now recognized by all stakeholders and it is high time that it is paid to workers whose job is to lead our children safely to school,” added Stéphanie Gratton, Vice President of FEESP and STS Policy Officer.
“The Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain (CCMM–CSN) has been supporting school bus unions in our region since the beginning of their struggle. We are once again mobilizing to do the best to ensure that these women and men’s working conditions improve, as they are entitled to. We cannot accept that an employer cuts the wages of workers who don’t already earn wages that recognize the work they do every day,” concluded Manon Perron, Secretary General of the Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain (CCMM–CSN).
Let us remember that more than 521,000 students, that is, more than 60 percent of all elementary and secondary students, board school buses every day.
The STTT-CSN has nearly 330 members in charge of some 300 school bus routes. The STS brings together over 3,100 workers from the Fédération des employées et employés de services publics–CSN, which has more than 400 affiliated unions, representing about 55,000 union members in public and parapublic services.
The Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain brings together nearly 100,000 members from the public and private sectors, organized into unions in Montreal, Laval, Nunavik and James Bay.
Founded in 1921, the CSN is a trade union federation that works towards a cohesive, democratic, just, fair and sustainable society. To this end, the CSN takes part in many debates that concern Quebec society. The CSN represents more than 300,000 workers on a sectoral or professional basis within eight federations, as well as regionally via 13 central councils, primarily in the province of Quebec.
Informations: Martin Petit
CSN Communications Department