TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 10, 2011) - The proposal to make the Toronto Transit Commission ("TTC") an essential service is a blatant attack on one of Canadians' fundamental rights, says Stan Dera, Canadian Director of the Amalgamated Transit Union. "Toronto City Council should be ashamed."

"Making public transit an essential service is a slap in the face to workers who fought to secure their right to unionize," says Dera.

"Workers fought for the right to unionize and the right to strike. These were hard won rights," says Dera. He points out that workers have been engaged in a long and bitter battle for these rights and on many occasions, company strikebreakers were called in to use violence to end a workers' push for fair treatment.

"Now the City of Toronto wants to take away these rights because of the economic loss and traffic gridlock caused by a TTC strike. The right to collectively bargain, including the right to strike, is enshrined in Canada's constitution, the highest law of the land. In the past, governments have only taken away this fundamental, democratic right when there is a danger to the life, health and safety of the public. Not to relieve gridlock."

If passed and the TTC becomes an essential service, it is not only in violation of an international treaty, but it eliminates the right for workers to fight for better working conditions. 

Dera says the City's request is completely one-sided; it considers only the economic interests of businesses and not the legitimate and constitutional rights of workers. "The fact that some citizens may be inconvenienced because TTC workers are on strike to fight for decent wages and benefits is not an excuse to strip the workers of their fundamental right to bargain with their employer."

Dera also calls for some serious thought at City Council. "The solution to gridlock is not to declare transit an essential service. The City needs to find solutions that will remedy the problems it currently faces. Robbing its workers of fundamental rights is not one of them." 

About the Amalgamated Transit Union

The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labour union for transit workers in North America with over 180,000 members. The ATU membership includes bus, subway, light rail and ferry operators, clerks, baggage handlers, mechanics and others in public transit, inter-city and school bus industries. 

Contact Information: For more information or to schedule an interview,
please contact:
Stan Dera
Canadian Director