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Hold Up. There's No Hold Up

10 minutes max, says ATU prez Ken Wilson, as union offers to have management-driven Access-A-Buses leave on time

by Miles Howe

Ken Wilson at Valentine's Scrum. Photo: Miles Howe
Ken Wilson at Valentine's Scrum. Photo: Miles Howe

HALIFAX - It would appear that many Haligonians have fallen for the Chronicle Herald's headline “Union Vows to Hold Up Access-A-Buses.” The headline does tug at the heartstrings: the notion of cruel union types keeping transit from those who need it most incites anger and hatred, and puts public support decidedly into the court of King Kelly and his merry-making menagerie.

But is it the whole story? Decidedly not. And those who now rail against the union should check their sources, for this is the same paper that only days before ran a full-page anti-union ad. And now they are an objective source for news on the strike? Please.

ATU President Ken Wilson, in the above interview, notes a few things of interest:

  1. There is a real concern as to the safety of untrained management driving Access-A-Buses around town. Anyone who has ever worked in the community health profession would know that loading and unloading a bus full of people in any number of wheelchairs, suffering from any number of conditions, and who must be supervised while being driven, is not easy. This is not a matter of taking a first aid course, as some of the most basic comments that litter the Herald's site suggest. Management has not undertaken the mentorship or extensive training programs that union Access-A-Bus drivers must take before being entrusted with this duty. An accident of severe magnitude is a real worry.
  2. The union has not “Vowed to Hold Up Access-A-Buses,” as the sensationalist headline would have you believe. The union has been in contact with representatives of management, and will be holding up Access-A-Buses for precisely ten minutes. Not only this, but the union has requested that management bring the Access-A-Bus timetable to them before Monday, and then bring the Access-A-Buses to the line 10 minutes before their scheduled departure time. Meaning, in effect, if an Access-A-Bus were scheduled to leave at 5:30am, and the bus were brought to the line at 5:20am, the union would stand in front of the bus for 10 minutes, and then allow the bus to leave on schedule. This, despite the very real concern that the manager driving the bus is severely unqualified to undertake the job at hand. 

  3. The only strikers on the line, “Holding Up” Access-A-Buses (actually not holding them up at all) will be the Access-A-Bus drivers themselves, of which there are 50. So cast from your memory the image of hundreds of angry unionists shaking and rocking Access-A-Buses. It is simply not true.

Please enjoy the above interview with ATU local 508 president Ken Wilson.

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