A group of Tri-Board Student Transportation Services workers is set to strike as of Monday, April 3, if their proposal for a wage increase is not accepted.
CUPE local 1479, the union representing the seven workers, says six of the staff are transportation planners who are “substantially underpaid” relative to their counterparts employed in other parts of Ontario.
“Right now, Tri-Board workers are the lowest-paid of similar transportation planners across the province, earning 19 per cent below the average,” said Liz James, CUPE Local 1479 president.
The union says Tri-Board transportation planners design over 620 school bus routes in the Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, Prince Edward, and Hastings counties of eastern Ontario.
“Our transportation planners organize safe, reliable, and efficient transportation to and from school for more than 30,000 students, over 600 vehicles, covering a geographical area of over 16,000 square kilometres,” James added. “Their work is valuable and yet they are being paid 19 percent less than the going rate for it.”
For its part, Tri-Board Student Transportation Services says the union is backing out of an agreed-upon deal that would have seen Tri-Board offering a 3.7% salary increase per year over four years which is the same as what education workers received in November 2022.
The union claims the cost to settle the dispute to avoid a disruptive strike is less than $20,000 — or only about $6,500 per school board.
It also says labour market adjustment wage increase is the major outstanding issue.
The workers have already voted down a tentative agreement that they say included a lower wage offer from the employer.
Tri-Board adds that Daily school transportation will continue as it does not employ Drivers, Monitors, or Mechanics. Tri-Board’s Safety Officer and Transportation Manager are also unaffected by the strike.
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