Is Ottawa Transit an essential service? Have your say.

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been a few weeks now for the Ottawa Transit Workers’ Strike. There is a key vote coming up on Thursday. The City has an offer, and they don’t really have a back-up plan if it is rejected. I’ve seen a few blogs and articles indicating opinions that it will indeed be rejected. Here’s to hoping it’s not. I understand the transit workers have needs, but the impact their strike is having on people and the local economy is, in my opinion, not equal action. I personally believe that transportation is an essential service for any city. I came across this just today, and I’ve posted it here directly from from OttawaStart: Your daily guide to Ottawa on the web

CIRB looking for public input on whether Ottawa transit should be deemed an essential service
Posted by Sue Clark-Wittenberg

The Canada Industrial Relations Board is looking for input from the public into whether or not transit services in Ottawa are essential

The Canada Industrial Relations Board is looking for input from the public into whether or not transit services in Ottawa are essential.

People can provide input before Friday, January 9th, by

  • e-mailing: octranspo-atu@ cirb-ccri. gc.ca
  • faxing 613-941-4461
  • or writing to: Canada Industrial Relations Board, Regional Director C.D. Howe Building, 4th Floor West, 240 Sparks Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0X8

When looking at whether or not transit services are essential, the Canada Industrial Relations Board is limited to the grounds in section 87.4 (1) of the Canada Labour Code which allow the Canada Industrial Relations Board to order a service to be provided if it is necessary, “to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public.”

This will not interfere with the vote on the City’s final offer on Thursday. If drivers and mechanics vote to approve the City’s final offer on Thursday, then service will resume.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board was asked to look into this by the federal Minister of Labour. This is a shift by the federal government, which said in December that it did not want to intervene. OC Transpo is in a unique situation. OC Transpo is one of a very, very small number of urban transit systems in Canada to fall under federal labour law. The input provided to the Canada Industrial Relations Board will likely have an impact on how the federal government responds to issues that are usually addressed at the provincial level. For the City, having all or part of transit service declared essential would likely mean binding arbitration would become the way disagreements in the negotiating process are resolved. Binding arbitration means no strikes or lockouts, but it also means that both sides must live with what the arbitrator decides.

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