May 8, 2018
TORONTO – Unifor, Ontario’s largest bus drivers’ union representing over 2,000 members across the province, gives the Driver Retention Bonus Program developed by the Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) a failing grade.
“We have heard an outcry from drivers who will not be eligible for their portion of the province's $60M program for drivers who maintain continuous employment due to the overly stringent criteria put forth by the OSBA,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
The program was intended to support the retention of quality school bus drivers but Unifor charges that the OSBA exclusionary “Absences from Work” criteria defeats the primary objective, while also violating the spirit in which the bonus was intended.
The union’s principle concern is that job protected leaves disqualify drivers from receiving the bonus under the criteria. This includes illness, injuries at work, parental leave, long and short term disability, bereavement, vacation days and strike action. When drivers take these leaves, protected under Ontario legislation and the Canada Labour Code, they are still continuously employed by the operator but the OSBA has unilaterally ruled that they should be excluded from the program.
“This is a clear contravention of the Canada Labour Code and a fundamental violation of worker rights,” said Unifor Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi. “Drivers are forced to decide between receiving a bonus or working through illness and foregoing all personal leave.”
Unifor calls on the OSBA to retract its criteria prior to the distribution of the first bonus payment. The union vows to explore all options to ensure that every eligible Ontario school driver has fair access to the bonus that they have worked so hard to earn.
For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).