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Monday, November 16, 2015

ONTC Workers Locked Out Again

Following renewed negotiations on Friday, Unifor unit 12 workers have once again been locked out by the ONTC management since Saturday. Details here.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Continued ONTC Labour Woes

Over the past year or so, collective agreement after collective agreement has come up for renewal and has been successfully renegotiated at the ONTC. However, the agreement covering maintenance and refurbishment staff has proven to be much harder to resolve.

On the one side, the ONTC remains committed to building a new business in order to follow the government-mandated mission to become commercially competitive. On the other, employees represented by Unifor feel that their job security and current benefits are being erased from the proposal being put forward by Ontario Northland.

Things came to a head Wednesday when the Unifor unit 12 employees were locked out by management. Not surprisingly, employees saw this as an unfair bargaining tactic designed to force the new agreement. It seems that this view was shared by the Canada Industrial Relations Board, who ruled the lockout illegal and ordered that it be ended Thursday morning. It seems that the ONTC had given insufficient notice of the lockout and forced its workers off the job without the required warning.

Labour negotiations are often contentious, but while I think it is clear that the ONTC is here to stay, it seems that becoming "competitive" may override the wellbeing of its workforce.

Friday, November 06, 2015

ONTC Cuts Bus Routes

Citing low ridership, the ONTC is cutting back several bus routes in Northeastern Ontario effective November 15.

These include: Cochrane-Matheson, Cochrane-Timmins, Kapuskasing-Hearst, Timmins-Sudbury and North Bay-Timmins.

With many northern residents still taking stock of life without the Northlander, this latest round of cuts has further cemented the divide between southern and northern Ontario. As Gilles Bisson has rightly pointed out, those relying on public transportation were initially promised an enhanced bus service to replace the Northlander. Not only has the enhance bus service not appeared, but bus routes are now being cut.

There is no doubt that the ONTC needed to restructure in order to remain a financially viable entity. However, sustainability appears to have been confused with skeletal service.