Sunday, April 27, 2008

TTC Strike 2008

For those of you who live in the GTA, you no doubt know that the TTC is on strike. For those who don't, the Toronto Transit Commission is the public transportation system that the city of Toronto relies upon.

On Friday evening, at approximately 10:30 pm, TTC workers rejected a tentative offer from the previous weekend and walked off the job at 12:01 am yesterday, stranding many people in downtown Toronto who were relying on the TTC to get home from a night of clubbing and enjoyment.

Previously, the worker's union ATU Local 113 had promised 48 hours notice before a strike, however when they gave said notice last weekend, Bob Kinnear, Local 113's president, stated that TTC employees had been met with a great deal of abuse from misguided citizens. To protect their members this time, they gave next to no notice.

Overall, news coverage on the what and why can be found everywhere, such as City News, so I won't bother going over everything. What I do want to do, however, is to take a moment to offer my own perspective.

Walking off the job with no notice is irresponsible, and certainly hurts the union's chance for sympathy from the general public. They screwed a lot of people early Saturday morning, and while they certainly made a point, it could have been much more effectively done had they waited until around 2:00 am, when the shifts were scheduled to end anyway.

However this irresponsible action has cast light on another view point. While the gears are in motion to legislate them back to work for Monday's rush hour, we have had an entire weekend without the city's primary transit. There are alternatives, such as GO Transit, but GO is really designed to service those living at the edges and outside the GTA traveling to and fro, not the city itself.

The city of Toronto has built itself up around the TTC, relying on it as part of its infrastructure. So why isn't it an essential service? It just makes common sense, doesn't it? If the entire city shuts down because the TTC is not running, why isn't it law that they can't strike? Or, if the city doesn't want to bring this about or for whatever reason can not, why hasn't it long since brought in alternate means of public transit, private or otherwise, as competition to the TTC for the people to choose from?

This is not the first strike, legal or otherwise, that the TTC worker's unions have conducted, and the results are easily predictable and ultimately preventable with a little hard work and planning. But that's the whole catch, isn't it. It would have taken work for our "overburdened" politicians to do anything about this long before hand.

So while you're busy cursing the union for screwing you this weekend, don't forget that all of this could have been prevented with some proactive foresight from our esteemed government. Instead, as usual, they're left dropping the ball, and when the dust settles, I place the blame squarely on them and the city of Toronto itself.


Katie said...

While I agree that the government is also to blame here for all the reasons that you stated, I don't think it's simply on them.

The TTC and the Union have proved time and time again that they are an irresponsible organization who have no respect for customer service. They constantly use the people that depend on them as their bargaining tool, they know they can get away with it, and it's completely unfair. So to let them act like children, and then absolve them of any responsibility, I think, is also not right.

Juxtapose said...

Ah, but that's where the government can step in. By declaring them an essential service, or by bringing about private competition, the government can remove the "people" as any kind of leverage, because then the people will either be guaranteed a service or have an alternate choice.

The government is supposed to be the voice of the people, yet they do not act or anticipate the people's needs, and that is a failure in the system.