Lower Mainland Handidart on Strike

There have been reports in the media of how the clients of Handi Dart in the Lower Mainland are suffering because of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1724 strike. However, I haven’t heard anyone talk about the California Company that Translink has contracted the service to. MVT Canadian Bus Inc. is headquartered in California and is trying to increase profits by taking away the workers pension plan, slashing benefits and cutting shifts in half. This is the usual attitude of foreign companies that our Government contracts our services out to.
The contractor bid to provide the service knowing all the costs involved including wages and benefits. MTV Canadian Bus Inc. serves 4,000 clients per day and even though our tax dollars, through Translink, pay them for the service plus a profit, they want more. The tried a true way to make more money is squeeze the workers. It is the same attitude that has pushed millions of non union US workers to join unions and fight their employers, and they do so without the protection of the labour laws Canadians work under. The striking employees care for their clients, but need a living wage to look after them. If the shifts are cut in half, wages are halved and twice as many inexperienced workers are hired to do the other shifts. I’ve watched the low paid contract hospital workers in Victoria---they don’t take the same care and pride in their job. The same will happen to MTV workers and the well experienced ones will leave for jobs that pay enough. It’s not that the workers are uncaring, but they need two jobs to pay the rent and they are tired.
MTV is showing us once again why we should keep our services at home. Private companies such as Telus have sent services off shore as well -- ever try to understand the person calling you? It doesn’t work.
Locally we are experiencing what happens when the Government changed the rules and permitted non Canadian companies to control our Forest Industry. Catalyst is showing disdain, not only for their workers, but the communities they operate in as well. People in New York don’t care about “hewers of wood and drawers of water” in Canada. Californian Companies don’t care about our elderly and sick. Many of MTV’s customers are cancer patients needing rides to treatment.
Today, Friday, the workers are expected to reject a “final offer” from the Company. Then what?
View From Labour (October 30, 2009)
Submitted by Jack McLeman
Former president of the PADLC