Hundreds of students from around Bedford are without school transport, this week, and there is no indication that the situation will be resolved soon.
School transportation Sogesco declared a lockout at its subsidiary Bus Yamaska, ABC division, from 20 May and for an unlimited period. Two PA days and a festive later, some 700 schoolchildren now have to manage to get to school.
Eastern Townships school boards and Val-des-Cerfs have already warned families affected by letter, email, Facebook and via their website. All schools remain open.
“I do not understand that a carrier that has a contract with a school board decides to go to lockout, says Sylvie Duval, Service Officer with the Teamsters. I’ve never seen that. “Twenty employees Bus Yamaska, ABC division are affected. They held a strike vote on 30 May.
The labor dispute stems from negotiations on the renewal of their collective agreement. According to Ms. Duval, the employer wanted to “return 10 years back” in monetary terms. The number of days worked, the frequency of pay, inspection and maintenance of vehicles are part of the disputed items.
Sogesco wants its employees based in Bedford limit the time spent on basic maintenance and cleaning of yellow behemoths. Above all, the Drummondville carrier wants them to stop doing the “mechanical pre-departure” (VAD), which would be entrusted in outsourcing, reducing hours worked.
“It is our right to manage,” says Line Langlois, Director of Human Resources at Sogesco, the largest private carrier in Quebec.
“We own several education companies and it is a trend in the industry [to entrust the VAD outsourcing] as regulation becomes more severe and that drivers are aging. Some have difficulty opening the hood of a bus. We want employees trained to VAD is better made and better controlled. And it does not save that much. ”
Ms. Langlois argues that this is the only issue and it should be accepted. “It has no more to give, she said. It has 32 branches, 28 different collective agreements and the application will be made everywhere. “The drivers Bus Yamaska, ABC division, who would lose two hours of work per week, already have good working conditions, said the spokesman Sogesco.
Mediation and contract
Sylvie Duval did not agree and said that the union will not accept that. It also regrets that the Bedford employees do offer lower working conditions than their colleagues in Cowansville, with the same employer. “How to resolve this impasse? I really do not know. Looks like the employer has no fear of losing contracts. We, we do not return until you have nothing satisfactory. “A mediation meeting is scheduled for Friday.
The lockout will not last forever: a school board may terminate the contract which binds it to a carrier if a work stoppage stretches beyond seven business days.
What happens if the labor dispute is not resolved before? Val-des-Cerfs is silent on this possibility in order not to interfere in the negotiations. “One of monitors developments closely and record the decision will be taken in a timely manner,” says the head of communications, Isabelle Charest.
“I hope to hear as soon as possible, but I have no control over this conflict,” said Éric Racine, Acting Director General in Val-des-Cerfs.