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March 25, 2008

Toronto Transit Financial Penalties on Injured Workers

Toronto Transit Union Suspends TTC Negotiations Until Financial Penalties on Assaulted and Injured Workers Are Withdrawn

"ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear said . . . we have to finally resolve the injustice of our members being financially penalized when they lose time because they have been criminally attacked or otherwise injured in the course of their duties. "

Mar 25, 2008 11:30 ET

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 25, 2008) - ATU Local 113 President Bob Kinnear said today that his union was suspending contract negotiations with the TTC until the Commission stops financially penalizing workers who are "criminally assaulted or otherwise injured on the job."

Following is the text of a statement by Kinnear to a Toronto media conference at 11:30 today:

"Anyone who follows the local news knows that working for the TTC can be hazardous to your health and safety. The recent investigation by the Toronto Star showed that TTC Operators suffer from higher rates of post-traumatic stress than any other group of workers in the city, including the police. So obviously, we're not making this up. The problem is real and it is serious and it is getting worse. How many people go to work every day and have to fear being spit on, slapped, punched, kicked, choked, slashed or even shot?

"But it's not just about the assaults on our Operators. Our members in Maintenance are also victimized by hazardous working conditions, very often because of the neglect of management. It wasn't that long ago that eight ATU members working in a subway tunnel came within seconds of dying because management failed to purchase a carbon monoxide detector that might have cost a hundred dollars, and that's the expensive model.

"We came into these negotiations looking for a fair and reasonable agreement for the next three years. And we still want one. But before we go any further in these talks, we have to finally resolve the injustice of our members being financially penalized when they lose time because they have been criminally attacked or otherwise injured in the course of their duties.

"All we're asking for is the same treatment given to City of Toronto workers when they are injured on the job, for any reason. They are not financially penalized because of their misfortune. And there is no evidence that the City of Toronto cannot afford this basic act of human justice.

"If it's good enough for City workers, it's good enough for TTC workers. And as a matter of fact, some TTC workers are treated fairly. If you're in TTC management, you get your full regular pay if you're off work because of illness or injury. So why does Chief General Manager Gary Webster think that his front-line workers are not entitled to the same consideration as he and all other TTC managers? I suggest the media ask him that question.

"While you're at it, ask him how much it would cost to correct this fundamental injustice. Because if he knows - and we think he does know - he's not saying. And we think he's not saying because it would reveal just how serious the safety problem is at the TTC.

"It's time for Mr. Webster to come clean. After all, he has already admitted that safety at the TTC is a big problem. He's paying millions of dollars to some American consultant to try to reduce injuries to our members. And these consultants will get even more millions of dollars in bonuses if they meet certain targets.

"So here we have the TTC throwing millions of dollars at American consultants to reduce lost time while penalizing those TTC workers who lose that time because of criminal assault or management incompetence. There's something wrong with this picture.

"Last Wednesday, we met with management and said this issue had to be resolved now. Yesterday, they responded. They told us that any cost increases in the contract would have to be paid for by concessions in other parts of the contract. In other words, if we want this injustice corrected, we have to pay for it out of our own pockets.

"It's almost unbelievable that we are being asked to negotiate a basic human right, one that is already in place for TTC management and all City of Toronto workers.

"We're not going to do that. We are calling a halt to negotiations until management does the decent human thing and removes the financial penalties for losing time due to being attacked or otherwise injured on the job. Once this injustice is corrected, we will return to the bargaining table and make our best efforts to reach a collective agreement that is acceptable to both sides."

For more information, please contact

Reno Associates
Bill Reno
(416) 223-7366

also see TTC Drivers Suffer Severe Stress, No Compensation

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