School bus drivers in communities east of Toronto walk off job

Click to play video: 'First Student bus drivers on strike in Bowmanville'
First Student bus drivers on strike in Bowmanville
Thousands of students are impacted by the Durham Region bus strike. Mark Carcasole has more – Mar 21, 2018

TORONTO – School bus drivers serving several communities east of Toronto are on strike after contract talks between Unifor and First Student Bowmanville broke off Tuesday night.

The walkout affects routes in the Durham, Durham Catholic, Kawartha Pine Ridge and the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Boards.

Unifor Local 4268 says bargaining broke off shortly before the strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. over the key issues are of unpaid work hours and wages.

READ MORE: Durham Region mother pulls daughter out of school to fight ‘unsafe’ bus stop location

“We want all of our time paid like anyone else and the job is very responsible. Our buttons say it all. Rights, respect, responsibility,” said local president Debbie Montgomery.

“We’ve been campaigning for that in this industry for a long time. This is an industry in crisis. They can’t fulfill their contracts. There’s not enough drivers to drive buses. Something has to be done.”

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The drivers have been working without a contract since Aug. 31, 2017 and have been in a legal strike position since Dec. 10, 2017.

“I think it’s about 12 to 14 hours we do in a week that we don’t get paid for,” bus driver Neil Power said.

“We come in the morning, we go around and to a circle check of our bus. That we get paid for. Sweeping and cleaning the bus. You get paid a little bit for that, but not very much. Traveling to my first stop, 20-25 minutes away, I don’t get paid for that.”

First Student spokesperson Jay Brock said in a statement to Global News that the current agreement is “fair and equitable” to all parties.

“We’ve stepped up to offer a highly competitive compensation package which includes a 20% increase in average compensation, a $400 signing bonus, and enhanced medical benefits,” First Student said.

“Based on this offer, our drivers would become the highest paid operators in the region. We certainly understand that even one day without yellow bus transportation is a hardship for the families, students, boards and schools that depend on us.”

READ MORE: First Student Bowmanville school bus drivers on strike

Parents are advised to visit the Student Transportation Services for Central Ontario and Durham Student Transportation Services websites for school listings and cancellation notices.

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“It’s important that our kids get to school safely and that means well-trained, responsible drivers,” Montgomery said.

Below is a list of schools affected by the strike.

Durham Catholic District School Board

Archbishop Denis O’Connor C.H.S
Father Joseph Venini C.S.
Father Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School
Monsignor John Pereyma C.S.S
Monsignor Paul Dwyer C.H.S.
Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic School
Saint Paul Catholic School
Sir Albert Love C.S.
St Christopher C.S.
St Hedwig C.S.
St John Bosco C.S.
St John XXIII C.S.
St Joseph C.S. ‐ OSHAWA
St Kateri Tekakwitha CS
St Thomas Aquinas C.S.

Durham District School Board

Bobby Orr P.S.
College Hill P.S.
Coronation P.S.
Donald A. Wilson S. S
Eagle Ridge P.S.
Eastdale C.V.I.
Forest View PS
G.L. Roberts C.V.I.
Gordon B. Attersley P.S.
Harmony Heights P.S.
Jeanne Sauve P.S.
Kedron P.S.
Maxwell Heights S.S.
O’Neill C.V.I.
Pickering H.S.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau P.S.
Pringle Creek P.S.
R.S. McLaughlin C.V.I.
Roland Michener P.S.
Seneca Trail P.S.
Sherwood P.S.
Stephen G. Saywell P.S.
Sunset Heights P.S.
Woodcrest P.S

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

Baltimore PS
Beatrice Strong PS
Bowmanville HS
C. R. Gummow PS
Central PS – Bowmanville
Charles Bowman PS
CIS – Campus (CIS) Bowmanville
Clarington Central SS
Clarke HS
Cobourg Collegiate Institute
Courtice Intermediate
Courtice North PS
Courtice SS
Dale Road Senior PS
Dr. G.J. MacGillivray
Dr. M.S. Hawkins Senior PS
Dr. Ross Tilley PS
Duke of Cambridge
Enniskillen PS
Grafton PS
Hampton Junior PS
Lydia Trull PS
M.J. Hobbs Senior PS
Newcastle PS
North Hope Central PS
Orono PS
Port Hope HS
Roseneath Centennial PS
S.T. Worden PS
Terry Fox PS
The Pines Senior PS
Vincent Massey PS

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-With a file from Global News

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