I am finding that I am getting increasingly disturbed by the way things have progressed over the last few days, surrounding the dispute between the City and Codiac Transpo.
I am concerned to start with over the wording used when the City originally decided to lock out Codiac Transpo without notice. The wording was along the lines of indicating that there was no notice given because of essentially safety and security concerns. While this is standard operating procedure in disputes, especially those where there is high levels of animosity and high likelihood of damage, the choice of wording gives the impression that the City did not feel that the ATU as a whole would operate in a respectable manner. It is not impossible that there are one or two amongst those laid off who could have harbored sufficiently ill feelings for this to be the case, however it is unlikely that any form of widespread violence or vandalism would have occurred. Most specifically while it is normal for employers to lock out employees with no notice, it is usually handled with far better tact then was shown with the statements by the city’s spokesperson. It would have been far better to have simply indicated that insurance and/or lawyers insisted on it for safety reason’s even though all parties understood that adverse events were unlikely. In this matter in all honesty the City and it’s spokesperson realistically owe the union an apology for the way it was handled.
Another thing that concerns me greatly is again an issue that is common, and totally legal, however is also extremely unfair and completely unethical.
This regards the removal of benefits from those who have been laid off. There are some amongst the staff or amongst the covered family members who are extremely ill and who require medications covered by these benefits. This type of action can cause extreme suffering, especially as those with preexisting conditions often can not get coverage, so a new job with benefits (that often do not kick in for between 3 months to a year) will not cut it. There is also the issue regarding the fact that if this coverage is terminated will those who are already ill, or who become ill while the lockout is ongoing, still be eligible to be covered once the contract dispute is resolved. While I have no final figures on how many are going to be immediately affected and how many will be affected over the long-term if the dispute runs for an extended period, what I can say is that to have any individual subjected to this type of issue simply due to a contract dispute is disgusting in the max and is almost guaranteed to damage the city’s credibility unless it is corrected quickly.
It should also be noted that to most people, even during a dispute, very few people would think to expect an interruption of employee benefits. The fact that the city chose to do so, even if it is 100% legal is extremely disturbing and shows the extreme tactics they are choosing to use in an attempt to break the union’s resolve.