The union is doing what it has to do. They are being asked to give up certain benefits (i.e. the ability to control their scheduling). From the union’s perspective it’s a dangerous precedent if they start giving stuff up so they HAVE to hold their ground.
The problem I think is that the majority of Ottawa residents (myself included) believe that the drivers don’t deserve to have control of the scheduling (in part because, true or false, we hear that they abuse it). The residents who most want this strike settled at any cost are those who are suffering the most because of it. Therefore the union needs as many people as possible suffering, so that the strike gets settled at any cost, most likely in the union’s favour. That is why the union had to strike just before Christmas, in the dead of winter. Maximum pain = union’s best chances of getting/keeping what it wants.
The union and drivers are prepared to see this through, because we’ve heard them say that they banked up their overtime in the summer (presumably by abusing their scheduling privileges) so they can afford to keep fighting.
For highlights of their last contract, Google “oc transpo collective agreement” (should be the first result, a PDF).
Their starting salary is more than what mine would be if I was starting out today. They start earning 6 weeks of vacation 4 years before I will. The most senior drivers will get 7 weeks, which isn’t even possible for me. They have just as many paid holidays as I do.
I’m a federal civil servant working in the Information Technology (IT) field, for goodness sakes. I thought I had one of the cushiest jobs in the world, but apparently OC Transpo bus drivers do.
I am in my early 30s and don’t have a drivers license. I’ve lived in Ottawa all my life, and my reasoning has always been that I don’t need a license because we had an awesome bus system. I’ve defended the bus system.
I’m beginning to change my mind.
I’ll either be getting my drivers license soon, or leaving Ottawa.