School bus drivers with Campeau Bus Lines — a company which serves Peterborough and the surrounding area — could be holding a strike vote on Thursday.
It’s one of several companies employed by the Student Transportation Services of Central Ontario (STSCO) which indicated Wednesday that negotiations continue between the company and Unifor, the union representing Local 4268, which has more than 200 school bus drivers.
According to Joel Sloggett, CAO of STSCO, Campeau serves 77 schools throughout Central Ontario.
“There are 115 buses serving those schools and there are actually 157 bus routes, so there’s a large number of routes,” he told CHEX News. “About 4,500 students may be affected if service is disrupted.”
At issue, according to the union, is Campeau Bus Lines’ demand for unpaid work time.
“Campeau is getting away with not paying workers, and that’s going to end,” stated Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “These bus drivers deserve equal treatment and a fair contract.”
The union says bargaining has continued since October for an agreement seeking “better working conditions and compensation for all driving time.”
Local 4268 members drive for schools in Peterborough, Peterborough County, Kawartha Lakes, Cobourg, Port Hope, Brighton, Whitby, Ajax, Oshawa, Clarington, Bowmanville and Orono.
“School buses do not drop out of the sky at the first pick up point or drive autonomously back to the parking location following the last stop,” said Debbie Montgomery, Unifor Local 4268 president.
“These unpaid trips add up to many hours per week, especially in winter driving conditions when vehicles must also be cleared of ice and snow.”
Unifor says in the event of job action, the union will give parents and the public 72 hours notice.
“Navigating a commercial vehicle safely while maintaining responsibility for a large group of children is not a hobby — it’s a job,” Montgomery said. “Like all workers, school bus drivers deserve to be paid for their time.”
STSCO is encouraging families of students who ride Campeau buses to check the STSCO website for regular updates and consider alternative transportation plans for students in the event of a possible strike.
“We want families that are assigned to Campeau bus lines to be aware of this, if your’re not sure if your’re on Campeau you can check on our website through the parent portal or you can call STSCO and we can help you out,” said Sloggett.
CHEX News has reached out to Campeau for comment.
More to come.