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DriveTest employee strike is now in its second month

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DriveTest employee strike is now in its second month Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                                                                           THE FORESTER, Wednesday, September 30, 2009              A5



DriveTest employee strike is now in its second month
By Carli Whitwell                                  life,” said Carlin. “Those kids that have been    performing bargaining unit work.                      DriveTest centres have been closed since
                                                   waiting all their life (to drive by themselves)       That’s not something DriveTest will agree     the start of the strike, which means every-
    Even though Ross Carlin is not feeling         and now the eight months are up (and they         to, said managing director Paul Dalglish. He      thing from written knowledge tests and
the effects of the DriveTest strike, his driving   can’t) …. They’re just super disappointed.”       said in small DriveTest Centres like Hunts-       road tests to vision tests are on hold. About
students sure are.                                     DriveTest examiners and customer ser-         ville’s if you have a handful of workers and      80,000 tests have been cancelled. The Min-
    The owner of Huntsville Young Drivers          vice agents went on strike on Aug. 22 because     a lineup of customers, a supervisor should        istry of Transportation has been extending
says business was up this month despite the        they say their contract doesn’t recognize job     step in to help.                                  licences that are about to expire until the
fact that union workers from DriveTest, the        seniority and security. The contracts with            Talks between the two sides stalled on        strike is over.
government-contracted service that runs            employer DriveTest (Serco DES Inc) for the        Sept. 13.                                             But Carlin is not sure that will help once
driver examination services around the             500 or so workers — about eight whom work             On Friday, United Steelworkers Local          test centres reopen.
province, walked off the job in late August.       in Huntsville — had expired in March. Secro       9511 president Jim Young said he doesn’t              “My understanding is the strike is
    He says that’s because more and more           took over running the province’s driver test-     expect any more anytime soon.                     going to go on for at least another three
kids are trying to get their G2 licences —         ing system in 2003 after inking a 10-year,            “It was apparent that the employer was        or four weeks,” he said. “Now you’ve got
which allow young drivers to drive alone           $114-million deal with the province.              steadfast in its positions and wasn’t going to    two months of backlog plus everybody else
— before the province increases in 2010                While money is on the list of the demands,    change, and obviously the union is firm on        who’s eligible, and they’ve all got to jump in
the minimum required time to obtain that           United Steelworkers Local 9511 reps say the       their main issues,” said Dale Hogg, union         there and book their tests. So it’s going to be
licence from eight to 12 months, if they suc-      biggest issues are seniority and job security.    staff representative for the Georgian Bay         backed up for quite a while.”
cessfully complete driver’s education.             They don’t want the employer to be able to        area from Huntsville and Bracebridge to               The good news, said Dalglish, is that the
    With the strike, these teens’ plans are on     lay off senior staff before part-time, contract   Owen Sound, Barrie and Alliston.                  driving examination business is seasonal
hold indefinitely.                                 workers, or students. The local also says             “We proposed language that would              and tends to drop off in winter. “We’ll focus
    “It’s one of the biggest moments in your       they don’t want supervisors or management         address (what the union wants),” main-            on catchup,” he said.
                                                                                                     tained Dalglish. “I’m actually a bit stumped          DriveTest centres also made headlines
                                                                                                     as to why they’re still on strike.”               last week. Following a three-month fraud

Cash for affordable housing?
By Karen Longwell
                                                                                                         Young says with no bargaining direc-
                                                                                                     tion from the province or employer, union
                                                                                                     members are taking matters into their own
                                                                                                                                                       investigation, Toronto police charged four
                                                                                                                                                       drive test employees — three Toronto-area
                                                                                                                                                       residents and one Orangeville resident
                                                      “We are hopeful that some will be              hands.                                            — for providing people with false driver’s
                                                   approved, if not in this next round, then             On Wednesday, the union was scheduled         licences. Over 150 fake identities were dis-
    There could be new hope for affordable         next year,” he said.                              to visit Queen’s Park and picket for their col-   covered.
housing in Muskoka in 2010.                           In the first round of funding evaluations      lective agreement in the hopes of reaching            Toronto police could not be reached to
    The District Municipality of Muskoka           this July, five of Muskoka’s proposals were       some sort of resolution. This is the first of     confirm whether or not this ring extended
has approved eight proposals for afford-           not accepted. Those five proposals plus           several rallies it plans to hold.                 outside the GTA.
able housing, which have been sent to the          three more were sent in for consideration
province for 100 per cent funding through          in this latest round and Williams expects
the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing              to hear back next month. If they are not
Program.                                           accepted, there is another round next April,
    “We are quite keen to push on this. We         he said.
are hoping for 100 or more new units to
begin construction in 2010,” said Rick Wil-
liams, commissioner of community services
                                                      The need for affordable housing in
                                                   Muskoka is great because of an undersup-
                                                   ply of units, said Williams.
                                                                                                             IMPORTANT MEETING
for the district.
    The eight private sector projects had to
                                                      “Rental costs in Muskoka tend to be
                                                   higher than average in the province,” said
                                                                                                            MUSKOKA LANDOWNERS
be approved at the district level before they
were considered for funding, said Williams.
                                                   Williams.
                                                      Utilities are also higher than average,
                                                                                                               ASSOCIATION (MLA)
The district has received funding through          while incomes tend to be lower on average
the same Canada-Ontario Affordable Hous-           because of the seasonality of jobs.                  Muskoka Riverside Inn, in the Ballroom
                                                      “You can say that the issue of affordabil-
ing Program for the 80-unit seniors’ housing
building planned on the old Pines property         ity in housing is particularly acute within          SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2009 - 5:00 P.M.
in Bracebridge.                                    Muskoka,” said Williams.
    The private sector projects would focus
on the needs of young families and people
                                                      The waiting lists for social housing in
                                                   Muskoka have also grown, he added.
                                                                                                                            LANDOWNER’S RIGHTS
with low income, said Williams.                       “Our wait list growth has been one of the         Due to the ongoing position taken by the District of Muskoka at the
    In total, the eight proposals represent        fastest growing in the province. It has dou-         Thursday, September 17, 2009 Planning and Economic Development
231 units and $26.5 million for consider-          bled in the last four years,” said Williams.
                                                      There are currently 460 people on the
                                                                                                        Committee Meeting, the MLA is calling for a meeting of its members
ation, said Williams. The program funds an
average of $120,000 per unit. The projects         district’s waiting list for affordable housing,      and all private landowners. The MLA will openly and clearly discuss
are located across Muskoka with five pro-          up from 230 people three years ago, Wil-             private landowners rights:
posals in Huntsville, two in Bracebridge and       liams said. Of the 460 people, approximately
one in Baysville.                                  110 are seniors, he added.                              • To always be the sole decision makers of their private
    A total of 160 units are proposed for             The 80 units for seniors on the old Pines              land, including management controlling and regulating.
Huntsville, 60 units in Bracebridge and 11         property will help, he said, but there is also
units in Baysville. A condition of the funding     a need for affordable housing among young               • Crown land patent grant rights.
is that the projects have to be maintained at      families.
below market rent for a 20-year period, said          The Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing                            PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND
Williams.                                          Program is part of the federal government’s                     YOUR PRIVATE LAND, YOUR LEGACY,
    Once the project is approved, the funds        stimulus package to bring jobs to the con-
will flow to the proponent of the project;         struction sector, said Williams.                              YOUR DECISION - POWER TO THE PEOPLE
however, the district would be responsible            The provincial and federal governments
for monitoring each project’s compliance           have allocated $220 million this year in                       CAREY-ANNE OKE-COOK - PRESIDENT - 705-645-5866
with affordable rent, said Williams.               Ontario and $290 million next year in                  DEBORAH MADILL - VICE PRESIDENT - DEB@SWMADILL.COM - 705-788-3783
    Williams is hopeful that at least one of       Ontario for new construction of affordable                         KAREN BAINBRIDGE - DIR. OF RESOURCES
the projects will receive funding.                 housing projects.                                                  KWBAINBRIDGE@VIANET.CA - 705-385-8030


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