Northern Ontario Bus Drivers & Monitors raise H&S concerns amid return to in-class learning
UFCW Local 175 raises concerns about crowded school buses as students in Northern Ontario head back to school during the worsening COVID-19 pandemic
Mississauga, ON – January 8, 2021 – With Northern Ontario schools set to resume in-class teaching on January 11, bus drivers and monitors are concerned for their health and that of the students on their routes. Local 175 of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) is calling for enhanced health and safety measures for its more than 330 members at Leuschen Transportation in Timmins, and First Student Bus Lines in Kenora and Sault Ste. Marie.
“We want to see health and safety measures ramped up immediately to protect these workers and the students on their routes,” said Shawn Haggerty, President of UFCW Local 175.
UFCW Local 175 expressed concerns at the start of the school year in September as well and many of those concerns have not yet been resolved. The Union continues to call for limits to the number of students who can safely ride the bus at once to maintain physical distancing; clear protocols for the use of masks on the bus; ensuring access to necessary equipment and PPE for every driver and monitor, and; increased funding to hire more drivers to allow for more buses and routes.
“The quality of education that students receive is incredibly important. Our members understand that learning online from home is difficult under even the best of circumstances and they adore the students on their route,” added Haggerty.
“The employer, school boards, and the government have had months to prepare for this eventuality. Putting these workers and students back in overcrowded buses while COVID-19 numbers are going up is dangerous.”
Members who have concerns should speak to their Union Representatives.
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