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GTA school bus drivers hold rally to get company to honour labour agreement

Click to play video: 'School bus drivers strike averted after tentative deal reached' School bus drivers strike averted after tentative deal reached
WATCH ABOVE: Parents didn't have to worry about finding alternative means of transportation after a tentative deal was reached between school bus drivers and the bus operator on Thursday – Nov 3, 2016

Greater Toronto Area school bus drivers held a rally in Markham on Thursday to demand a private bus company to honour a labour agreement reached between both parties last month.

The deal, a first for drivers from First Student Markham, was agreed upon following an all-night bargaining session on Nov. 3.

“The ink is barely dry on the contract, and already the company is violating it,” Unifor Assistant to the National Secretary-Treasurer Jenny Ahn said in a media release.

“This is the kind of poor labour relations that makes it difficult to recruit and retain school bus drivers, and leads to driver shortages like we saw this fall.”

One driver said they are being docked extra pay when they accept additional work, such as field trips, because the company believes they do less than four hours of work.

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“It lowers morale. The drivers on the whole are not happy. The company agreed to the four hours. They are interpreting it different than we do,” driver Kim Underhill said.

The union representing the drivers says the deal broke new ground, including having drivers being paid for all the hours while they are on duty.

Unifor Local 4268 ratified the labour deal last month but said the company is refusing to pay workers as outlined in the collective agreement, have changed work hours and conditions of employment.

READ MORE: School bus strike averted in GTA after company, union reach tentative deal

The union said this has led some drivers to resign and others are considering quitting.

A statement released by First Student Markham said drivers are getting paid what they are owed in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement that was just ratified last month.

As part of the CBA, there is a process in place for dealing with disputes. Both parties mutually agreed to the process. So if there is a dispute to discuss, we believe in resolving it through previously agreed-upon methods,” the statement read.

The bus company services students from the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board and York Region District School Board.

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“Drivers, already paid very little, are not even getting paid all that they are owed,” Unifor Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery said. “Many are left wondering how they will pay the rent this month, let alone buy presents for their kids.”

Editor’s note: Global News had incorrectly stated the company is not paying drivers for working the guaranteed four hours even though they do less. In fact, they are being docked extra pay when they accept additional work.

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