Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Lazy Man’s Strike

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is on strike. The TTC is the largest transit system in Canada, and one of the largest in the world, keeping over 1.5 million people in pace with their lives.

Most unions, when they stage a labour walk-out – AKA a strike – they not only stop working, but they stage a protest in front of their bosses. These protests usually come complete with angry workers, marching in circles, yielding signs in protest, while chanting some sort of slogan of protest against unfair wages, job security and the like.

Not so with the largest transit union in Canada – they are too lazy to get out on the picket lines and march as every other labour union has done in the past. No sir – there aren’t even picket lines to march in!

The TTC’s way of getting their bosses to listen to their labour demands? Displace those 1.5 million daily people who use the system, by simply taking time off with pay. Grant it, strike pay is far less than they make while working, but isn’t the whole point of a strike – well – to strike?

The TTC is an essential service – like the police, the fire and the ambulance – they keep Toronto moving. By providing a much needed life-line for those who depend on their service, they ensure people get to their jobs, so they can afford to live. Those who do have cars also take the TTC. Car pooling is common – and many of those car pools take people to the subway, so they don’t have to park downtown.

The TTC also provides another essential service – helping keep Canada’s busiest city from being stuck in traffic. There is always traffic in Toronto. But when the city’s buses, streetcars and subways stop rolling, the traffic more than doubles – making it nearly impossible for anyone – even those on foot – to get anywhere, anytime fast.

So, the TTC has the ability to get it’s labour unrest messages out without having to actually do anything – they just take the lazy way out and take a paid holiday.

I wish I could do that – hell I bet you could too. I want a raise, so I’ll just stay home and watch TV all day. Yeah – that’ll work.

The TTC’s employees do an amazing job when they do it. But when they don’t – they do just as an amazing job – more like mind numbing – who else can take a paid holiday when they decide they aren’t being paid enough?

The problem is the union is far too powerful, the city too dependent, and the workers too blinded by the scale of their city. The workers have a false sense of security, thinking that because they drive buses in the biggest city in Canada, they should be paid and treated like royalty.

I hate to point out the obvious, but they are JUST bus drivers! No one goes to university to become a bus driver, just like no one goes to college to become a garbage collector, a telemarketer, or any of a bunch of blue collar jobs.

Yes the TTC is an essential service, and yes it should be declared one – finally – so that the city doesn’t fall into the spirals of commuter chaos every time the union wants more.

But, I think it is also time that the TTC’s workers be reminded of their role. If they want to make more than a bus driver can make, maybe they should do what the rest of us do when we want to make more money – find another career!

Instead of raising fares, cutting repairs and killing routes to pay egomaniacs more money to simply drive a bus, the TTC should provide worker education programs so that bus drivers can become more than just that, and the city can continue to move and grow.

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