In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

OC Transpo strike

The transit union in town is on strike. They’ve been on strike since early December. I recall hearing that the longest transit strike was 24 days, and this one has been going on for nearly twice as long now. The number of cars on the road is up by about 20%. Rare is the day when my commute time is only 20% longer than normal.

The sticking point is scheduling. The drivers make their own schedules and they like it that way. The city doesn’t like it that way because they say that split shifts and overtime have them paying more than they really need to.

The only thing I’m going to say by way of judgement is that I’ve never had a job in which I made my own schedule. Besides that, I’m long past caring who’s fault this is and who should give in.

On the second day of the strike, OC Transpo head Alain Mercier said the strike will save the city $3 million a week. It’s not exactly clear why he said this. Should we be pleased? I’m not. The transit system is there for a reason. When it’s not working, its purpose is not being served. Taken to its logical conclusion, perhaps we should makes these savings permanent and get rid of OC Transpo entirely, starting with Alain Mercier’s job. Despite Mercier’s boneheaded pronouncement, this certainly is not the answer.

The city has established a fund for those who have lost their jobs or who may lose their jobs because of the strike. The fund’s budget is $500,000. When the strike is over, there will also be costs involved in getting the bus fleet operational after standing idle. But will all of the costs involved in the strike exceed the amount OC Transpo did not spend? I doubt it. The strikes been on about six weeks now. That’s $18 million in savings. What happens to the money left over after the expenses are paid?

Something tells me it will quietly disappear. I’m sure there are good uses for it, but will we ever be told where it goes? I doubt it.


“I never meant to cause you trouble”




  1. Shawn

    I think Unions need to get re purposed to be the stewards of safe and ethical practices and leave salaries, performance and yes scheduling to the employer, just like we do in our industries. As it stands now, we are being legally extorted by a bunch of thugs. And yes the City management are boneheads too for letting this go on this long.

  2. Des

    What does the savings figure represent — wages, fuel, costs, etc.? Does it take into account the revenue that would have come in had the buses been running?

  3. Jonathan

    The city has recently stated that around 4 or 5 million (don’t remember the exact no.) dollars savings from the strike have been used to pay out last year’s OCTranspo budget over run. Handy that the strike lasted long enough to balance the city’s books and then some. hmmmm. The left over money will remain in the OC budget for public relations after the strike and then rolled into the 2010 operating budget, if there is anything left after repairing all the parked buses.

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