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School bus drivers demand pay equity, threaten to walk out

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by Isabel Mosseler
Tribune

October 14, 2020

On September 29, local bus drivers with Alouette Bus Lines staged an action in front of the bus depot in Sturgeon Falls to demand better wages. Estelle Raymond, one of the 35 protesting bus drivers and a spokesperson for the group, said that while there was no union at the shop, the drivers were prepared to walk out if their demands for wage equity were not met. Of the 71 drivers with Alouette Bus Lines, 57 signed a joint statement backing the action.

Raymond told The Tribune, “We’re standing together to get equal pay to match our sister company, Northway Bus Lines Lines, who receive $17.70/hr. We’re getting $16/hr. Both companies are operated by Landmark.” She said that Landmark operates several bus lines in Ontario and their employees are all paid differently.

According to Raymond, Landmark’s service contracts are with different student service consortiums, “And that’s what they are using as an excuse. But as a school bus driver, we all have the same responsibilities across Ontario.” Asked if the bus drivers were thinking of unionizing, she said, “We’re not speaking to that whatsoever. The objective is to be paid equal as our sister company and because there are companies in neighbouring towns getting $20.hr – a different company than ours altogether – we’re trying to get a wage that matches. Otherwise we will start to lose drivers. Any future monies, incentives or bonuses that our sister company gets, we want here.”

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