Lawyers for the union representing Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) workers are looking into the legalities of the provincial government’s decision to shut the company down, according to its president.
In Wednesday’s provincial budget, the government announced that STC would cease operations by the end of May, costing 224 employees their jobs.
Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for the bus service, said the move was made due to decreasing ridership and would save the province from spending more than $85 million to subsidize the company over the next five years.
The measure was one of many taken by the provincial government in an effort to begin tackling a roughly $1.3 billion deficit. In the lead up to Wednesday’s budget, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall had consistently warned that everything was on the table.
The decision to shut down STC was met with “shock” and “sadness” by employees according to Eric Carr, the president and business agent for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1374, which represents the STC workers who will soon be out of work.
He said the union was not informed of the decision beforehand.
“We’re not naive people, we felt maybe there might have been some run reductions in the province, some routes abandoned,” Carr said in an interview Friday.
“But we never ever had a thought that the company would be shutting down.”
Carr said the union’s lawyers are currently exploring how the group should react to the province’s decision. He said the STC is federally regulated since its buses cross provincial boarders and believes the province may have broken labour code rules in its action.
“If you’re getting rid of more than 50 people at a time, you have to give the union 16 weeks’ notice,” Carr said of one possible violation.
“There’s so many things that need to be answered.”
Carr was in Regina meeting with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour on Friday morning to discuss the union’s next steps. He said the hope is that with public support, the province will reverse their decision.
“In 1946 when STC was established, it was established to provide transportation to the people of Saskatchewan,” Carr said.
“It was never put in place to make money.”