Canadian ATU 113 TTC union alleges safety double standard after worker hit by bus

Canadian ATU 113 TTC union alleges safety double standard after worker hit by bus
Contract employees not held to same safety requirements, says union

NEWS Aug 25, 2017 by Rahul Gupta North York Mirror

TTC vehicle operator Neil Cooper suffered several injuries to his face and body after he was hit by a bus at the Wilson garage August 15. - Neil Cooper/Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113
The TTC’s largest labour union accused the commission of maintaining a double standard for workplace safety after one of its members was struck and injured by a bus driven by a contract worker.

The incident, which took place earlier this month at the Wilson garage in North York and was confirmed by the TTC, was severe enough to knock Neil Cooper, a bus operator with 30 years of experience, unconscious for eight seconds according to the union. Cooper also suffered facial lacerations, an injury to his eye as well as multiple dislocated fingers, said Kevin Morton, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113. No charges have been laid.

While an official investigation of the collision is underway, Morton blamed the incident directly on the contract worker involved, identified by the TTC as a service line cleaner hired through a third-party. Unlike their unionized counterparts, Morton said less-skilled contract workers are not held to the same standards, accusing the TTC of compromising the safety of its permanent employees to save money on wages.

“They’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to save money,” said Morton over the phone from Milwaukee. “(Contract workers) could kill, injure or maim someone, but they’re not held to the same standard (as a permanent worker).”

According to Morton, his union has obtained GPS data from the bus, which shows the driver was speeding “nine to 12 kilometres” over the speed limit at the time of the collision.

“It’s all proven, these are facts,” he said.

Contract workers are permitted to drive buses on TTC property provided they have a valid Ontario class A, B or C commercial license just like regular vehicle operators, said spokesperson Stuart Green.

While Green couldn’t comment specifically on the incident pending the completion of the investigation, he said cleaners frequently move buses to the front of the line after they’re serviced.

“This is an unfortunate incident that resulted in injuries to the operator, which were treated in hospital,” said Green.

Contract workers are not subject to random-drug testing as the rank and file, Green said, but contract stipulations require a third party company contracted by the TTC ensure its employees are “fit for duty”.

“This is consistent with the requirement of our (permanent) operators,” he said.
Green said police investigating the collision did not opt to administer a breathalyzer test to the driver.

The incident, which took place on the evening of Aug. 15, represents “a troubling pattern” of compromised worker safety, said Morton who referred to past examples of workplace injury involving contracted workers.

One incident he said took place in 2014, also at Wilson, where a contracted worker crashed a bus damaging multiple vehicles and was ultimately found not to possess any type of valid licence. Metroland Media Toronto was unable to independently verify the allegation and the TTC could not provide confirmation.

“These are not isolated incidents,” said Morton.

Green said the review will involve the TTC and the Ministry of Labour, but could not provide a timeline for its completion.

“Safety is the cornerstone of all TTC operations and we take incidents like this seriously,” he said