The Beat Crawls On

I am definitely the sort to say “I told you so,” which means I am only staying true to my nature in pointing out that I knew the relationship between the city and the transit union wasn’t likely to stay cordial for long. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean there are any different solutions to offer now that we didn’t discuss during the strike, either.

The city’s decision to introduce elements of their scheduling agenda in advance of arbitration is the equivalent of throwing kerosene on glowing embers. The transit strike that lasted fifty-some days and only ended a month and a half ago, had more to do with scheduling than anything else, superficially. Fine, it was all about money in the end, like almost everything else, but it was about money that comes from the system of scheduling that drivers have used since the last major labour dispute between their coterie and the city. It almost seemed to good to be true that everyone would decide to get along and let an arbitrator sort out the mess, and it was. No real surprise there, given that the terse agreement was brought about by the threat of government intervention and back to work legislation.

Let’s not misunderstand what I’m saying, here; I think the city is absolutely right to institute minimum regulations and expectations on bus drivers related to public safety. As I’ve said before, I think it’s absolutely insane that we have more stringent safety regulations for truck drivers than we do for drivers with a human cargo. It’s scary to take to the roads knowing the the drivers in those massive red and white boxes are driving with barely any sleep, or have been driving for weeks without a single day off. I’d be terrified to actually step into one of those buses given such circumstances.

But, I don’t think it comes as a suprise to anyone that the drivers are less than impressed by the city’s insistance to begin pushing minimum rest requirements in advance of the arbitration process that is supposed to decide the scheduling matter.

John Baird has stepped in, having decided that the situation has cooled sufficiently to allow him to do so without risking political capital, and declared that minimum rest requirements are necessary to ensure public safety. It’s laughable that Baird only seems to have begun to lose sleep over this issue now, after the real troubles with transit and the city have been deferred, but nobody can really expect integrity from the same guy that came up with the Conservative government’s ridiculous commitment to a better environment at a point so distant in the future that none of those involved in the plan are likely to still be alive.

Reports are now coming in that some drivers have begun an informal work to rule campaign, doing small things to disrupt service and inconvenience the riders that they’ve already put through immense hardship for more than a third of this year. Small things, like not stopping to pick up riders. Or driving slow enough to be late to destinations. You know, things that would be considered job performance issues anywhere else, things that could lead to firing.

Andre Cornellier claims that he is unaware of any organized work to rule campaign in response to the city’s decision, but thinks of the reports that drivers have taken matters into their own hands, again, “good on ’em.” I’m pretty sure Cornellier has more rat DNA in his makeup than human, nevertheless I am at a loss to understand how the guy can live with himself. Nobody else seems to be able to.

And this is just the beginning. The players in this drama are all the same, and the catalyst for chaos is no different now than it was in December. When the stirke ended, I suggested that people would forgive and forget and go back to business as usual because the buses were back on the road, and because people had the attention span of a puppy. And isn’t that exactly what happened? Didn’t people go right back to their lives, forgiving and forgeting, because the transit system they depend on was, at least superficially, back on track?

Not one person involved in the strike is in any different a position now, literal or figurative, than they were then. So how the hell can anybody with half a brain expect to be surprised that we find ourselves on the precipice of transit meltdown again? Nobody really came to agreement to end the strike, except to agree to save collective face under the threat that the government was finally sick enough of things to force people back to work. Picture two kids fighting over a toy; they stop fighting as soon as the parent with the big stick threatens them, but that doesn’t really resolve the fight. It’s not as though either brat has had a change of heart and become benevolent.

Well, neither have these two brats.

We can understand the city’s motivation here: the city always seeks to save money, which means they are looking for ways to either not ask us for more money in taxes, or looking for ways to spend the money they have already gotten from taxes in the most advantageous way. And I’m okay with that. I don’t like taxes any more than anyone else. If I have to be taxed, I’d like to see the city try and find better ways to spend the money they’ve swindled from us.

The union’s motivation is to take as much of that money as possible and put it in their pockets. I’ve already pontificated on this, so I’ll spare you the redundancy.

The point is simple: both sides are completely self-interested, but only one side has a self-interest that in some way benefits the interests of the public.

The transit union is a mafia-like syndicate, and should be treated like one. Enough of this sopping sentimentality and turning of the other cheek. It’s about time the public started to express their own self-interest and demonstrates refusal of the childish pressure tactics these civil servants are exercising while earning a salary paid for by municipal citizens.Every time one of those greedy, self-absorbed schmucks misses a stop, gets you to your destination late, or drives by and ignores you at your pick-up spot, call the management or contact a supervisor. Hell, leave a comment here and I’ll find a way of emailing it on to someone else.

Let this mob of idiots know that there is more to the city than just the stuffed shirts they’ve been dealing with.

We might find better resolutions to our problems if we actually take part in the process.

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