Why some Winnipeg parents may have to find alternate ways to get their kids to school

By | August 10, 2020

WINNIPEG — Some parents in the Winnipeg School Division may have to find alternate ways to get their kids to school this September, as some bus drivers threaten to strike.

According to a news release from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 832, which represents about 95 bus drivers in Winnipeg School Division 1, contract negotiations resumed for one day in mid-July. At this time, the school division gave the bargaining committee a final offer, which included the financial terms of Bill 28.

The Public Services Sustainability Act, or Bill 28, was passed in 2017 but never proclaimed into law. The bill called for a two-year wage freeze for public-sector workers, followed by a 0.75 increase in the third year and one per cent in the fourth year. A Manitoba judge ruled against this bill in June 2020.

Last week, the bus drivers met at a social-distanced meeting, reviewed the offer and turned it down.

Bea Bruske, secretary-treasurer for UFCW Local 832, said in a news release that offering the terms of Bill 28 is unacceptable.

“Bus Drivers have the important job of making sure our kids are looked after as they get to and from school, they deserve a fair deal,” Bruske said.

On March 3, the drivers voted unanimously to strike “as the employer was not engaging in meaningful bargaining,” though since this time, Bill 28 was struck down. UFCW said the bus drivers have now set a strike deadline of Sept. 8 – the day school begins for the year.

Bruske noted three days of bargaining with the school division are set to take place at the end of August.

“Unless the school division adjusts their bargaining position and comes to the table with a fair offer, then parents will not be able to rely on the bus service when schools reopen,” Bruske said.

The bus drivers’ current contract expired on June 30, 2019.

CTV News Winnipeg has reached out to the Winnipeg School Division for comment.

– With files from CTV’s Josh Crabb and The Canadian Press’ Steve Lambert.

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