I Support the Bus Drivers

January 7, 2009

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect an official position of apt613.

I live downtown. I live downtown because I don’t want, and typically don’t need, a car. I (foolishly) don’t work downtown; I work in Ottawa South. Fortunately I’m in good health and I can get to work in just under an hour. That’s just less than two hours of walking a day. I wish I’d canceled my gym membership.

I whine a lot about my walk to and from work but I stand by the bus drivers. I’m not going to get into what the bus drivers want and what the city wants to take away; to me that’s mostly noise and should stay behind closed doors.

What I really find concerning about the strike is the way it’s being handled and the attitudes of Ottawans.
The city, it seems, never seriously went to the bargaining table. It appears to be their sole goal to extend this strike as long as possible.

The majority of citizens, according to a city poll, believe it is important that the city stick to their guns. To this reader, they’re saying they want to see the city break the union. In a city full of unionized employees it boggles my mind.

I keep hearing people say that this isn’t the time for striking. That those lazy bus drivers should be happy they have jobs. I can’t help thinking: It’s never a good time for transit to strike and Ottawa has a stable job market, so how does this add up?

Gwyn Morgan cheerily concluded in his Monday column for the Globe and Mail:
But crises create opportunity: In this case, the long overdue opportunity for governments and the general public to stand up to union demands, even when it means enduring strikes and hiring unemployed replacement workers glad just to have a job.

We don’t need unions in good times. In good times employers compete for employees. In bad times, if you’re lucky, your union makes sure that there is a discussion and a compromise is reached. Gwyn Morgan and I agree that this crisis has created opportunity here I just hope that good employers don’t take it.

The most shocking thing about this strike has been the attitude of my fellow commuters. They have turned on the bus drivers as if the drivers have personally decided to betray every single one of them. I fear for the safety of the bus drivers on their return and I’m considering bringing them cookies.

The drama of the Ottawa Transit Strike is always continuing. Today the labour board is looking for stories of people hurt by the strike in order to make transit an essential service. On one hand this is wrong as it removes the right of the bus drivers to strike, but it forces the city to the table and the service often gets a better deal than otherwise possible.

Check out the Union website and the city website for more drama.


5 Responses to “I Support the Bus Drivers”

  1. Katie Says:

    The bus drivers may have a case, but I haven’t heard. The union hasn’t done a particularly good job of letting Katie public know why they are right, especially since I feel like burning everyone on the stake of the economic crisis. In this day and age being right and having the right sounds bits are the same thing.

  2. m Says:


    This was published before Christmas. I was already out west and missed it. It’s a good editorial about hating the strike not the strikers.

  3. François Says:

    I’m curious to see the results of the vote tonight. Maybe we will have the buses back soon although the union is pushing for a no vote.

    I was reading on Radio-Canada that the city of Ottawa is saving 3 million a week since the strike started! Crazy.

  4. althia Says:

    i think margaret should have been liveblogging from city hall tonight. i’d like to have a minute by minute knowledge of why this is taking so long (yes, i know lots of votes.. still m. why aren’t you there?)

  5. davidjons Says:

    It seems our reps’ forgotten that they are supposed to be working for our best interest – how about nudging them by going to the following site and let them know you are as displeased as I am with the current lack of progress – lead or get out of the way Mayor Zero !!:


    you can cc your councilor or as many as you want via the cc button on the side

    Mayor O’Brien.

    Please tell me what percent the 3 or 4 million dollars in savings in OC tanspo scheduling represents in relation to the overall city budget? Was it worth forcing a strike rather than finding a workable solution acceptable and reasonable to both sides?

    Can you and city council that lined up unanimously behind you honestly believe that the economic loss, personal hardship and general harm to this city was worth it? Are you willing to campaign on that next municipal election, because this will be the defining moment of your administration and those who stood behind you on this.

    People of goodwill can resolve anything, but whatever goodwill was in the air has been depleted and it is time to restore it. I for one do not want any more nonsense and wasted money on mitigation, I want the bus services my tax dollars fund to be available to all citizens of this city.

    Show some leadership and maturity, offer to get a mediator and put the scheduling into a study group with a reasonable cooling down period before it is revisited. If at that time there is still no “good will” between the parties send it to binding arbitration.

    End this debilitating strike now.

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