(Montreal) Hundreds of students on the South Shore of Montreal will be deprived of school transportation as of Tuesday due to an indefinite strike called by the drivers of Autobus Longueuil.

Members of Unifor Local 510 working for Autobus Longueuil will go on strike from midnight Monday night to Tuesday.

The Center de services scolaire (CSS) Marie-Victorin is the main client of this school carrier. According to its website, it is one of the largest school service centers in Quebec and “serves more than 44,000 students, young people and adults”.

In an email sent to La Presse Canadienne, the CSS Marie-Victorin indicates that the strike affects approximately 30% of its students who are transported by Autobus Longueuil.

Unifor Local 510 school bus drivers have been without a contract since June 30, 2022. The nearly 70 unionized workers voted unanimously in favor of a strike mandate if a tentative agreement is not reached. concluded before March 20, 2023.

The union argues that current wages are not representative of “the height of the responsibilities” of workers who are responsible for transporting children between their homes and schools. He also points out that they have to deal with “problems with traffic, breakdowns, filling fuel tanks and discipline on the buses”.

In a press release, Jean-Yves Filion, national representative for Unifor Quebec, describes the wages offered by the employer as “frankly indecent”. He mentions that all school carriers are struggling to recruit staff and that this threatens the maintenance of this service. He asks that the working conditions of drivers be improved.

“Our members are ready to go all the way,” he comments.

The Unifor press release claims that the Quebec government has paid a bonus to school carriers amounting to 15% to 30% of their contracts to alleviate various problems. According to the union, this sum was to be used to provide “living wages” to employees. He denounces that the salary aspect is not advancing in negotiations with the employer.

“It’s really sad because about 1,500 students will be deprived of school transport tomorrow morning,” laments Jean-Yves Filion.

Mitigation measures have been put in place by the CSS Marie-Victorin to reduce the impacts of this strike as much as possible. Among other things, “an exceptional monitoring service” and free of charge will be offered to parents who are unable to transport their children to the beginning and end of classes. A survey sent last Friday must first have been completed by the parents to have access to it.

In addition, the hours of supervision will be extended to secondary after the end of classes.

“For high school students or students aged 12 and over, bus tickets will be distributed, so that students who wish to do so can take RTL public transit, free of charge,” said CSS Marie-Victorin .

Children 11 and under already have free access to public transit.

Since the number of users on the lines of the Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL) is likely to increase, the CSS Marie-Victorin advises giving preference to the transport of students by parents or carpooling if possible.

The School Service Center assures that it will keep families informed of any developments with the school bus. “He will continue to monitor the situation closely and wishes for a speedy return to normal.”