Contracts that have not been signed between transporters and school boards means that services could be unavailable on dozens, even hundreds of school bus routes across Quebec…
Laval, August 16, 2022 – School transportation is likely to be disrupted this fall. Contracts that have not yet been signed between school boards and transporters could deprive tens of thousands of students of a way to get their school.
According to the school bus operators, the reason for this is that the monetary envelope dedicated to school transportation is insufficient to meet the considerable increases in their operating costs. But this dispute is only the tip of the iceberg, as another serious issue has been threatening the industry for years.
“It is common knowledge that this industry has difficulty recruiting and retaining its workers because working conditions, particularly salaries, are insufficient,” points out François Laporte, president of Teamsters Canada. “There is a labor shortage that has developed over time and that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Massive resignations expected?
Although the Teamsters Union warned the government and the school transport industry several years ago about the difficulty of recruiting and retaining workers, nothing has been done to address this issue.
But the dispute between school boards and the companies is an issue that has the potential for many unintended consequences.
“There is every reason to believe that school transportation on dozens, even hundreds of routes may not be provided if contracts are not signed between the school boards and the carriers,” added Jean Chartrand, president of Teamsters Local Union 106. “This automatically means that hundreds or even thousands of drivers could be out of work eventually.”
This could lead to massive resignations of employees who are, in most cases, pre-retired or even retired. We can expect the situation to become even more critical in the coming weeks and months.
“Recruiting and retaining workers in school transportation is not easy,” analyzes Jean Chartrand. “To achieve this, we must revalue this profession and substantially increase the salaries of drivers. Many of them are asking us to improve their working conditions by 30%.”
“Therefore, the government must substantially and permanently increase the monetary envelope dedicated to wages. This is the only way to get out of the crisis in a sustainable way.”
Meanwhile, the situation remains very confused. This is why the FTQ and its affiliated unions, including the Teamsters, are urgently requesting a meeting with the Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, for the second time in less than 30 days.
“The meeting as to be set as soon as possible, Mr. Minister,” said Jean Chartrand. “I don’t think the government wants to end up with widespread chaos in school transportation shortly before the provincial election.”
The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada. They are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which has 1.4 million members in North America.
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