TTC workers walk off the job due to COVID-19 safety concerns

Apr 16, 2020 | COVID-19, News

A Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus driver wears a mask while driving along Don Mills Road as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continue to grow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

Elesha Nicholls

A video that surfaced on Facebook shows TTC operators standing outside The Queensway divison refusing to work.

The person videotaping says “Theres a work refusal being done because we all want masks, we feel like our lives are in jeopardy and we’re scared”.

ATU Local 113, the union that represents these workers blamed TTC management for not doing enough to protect its workers by not providing a consistent supply of personal protective equipment.

In a statement, the TTC said the Ministry of Labour was currently reviewing the matter of the 33 Queensway drivers who walked off the job but had already made a ruling regarding the 5 others from the Wilson division.

“The Ministry of Labour reviewed the action and said the refusals did not meet the conditions for a work refusal,” TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said Thursday.

An inspector from the Ministry of Labour further determined that the TTC did in fact have proper measures for their employees to prevent COVID-19 related hazards.

Some of the measures the TTC say they are using to protect their workers and customers are plexiglass barricades, back door boarding, and blocked off seating.

They also provide staff with disposable gloves, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. Masks are allowed to be worn by workers but it wouldn’t be provided to them at this time.

In a video interview with CP24, Mayor John Tory said: “We’re working now with them to work this issue out to make sure with the advice of Toronto Public Health and the Ministry of Labour that we get PPE to the people who need it.”

The TTC says they are in the process of sourcing and manufacturing washable and reusable face masks that will be optional to workers.

As of today, 17 TTC workers have tested positive for COVID-19.