Bus drivers not wearing uniforms as form of protest

Wearing street clothes shows dissatisfaction with management

A bus driver wears his black sweater instead of his uniform. Gina Rogers Photo
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Reported by Gina Rogers

November began with reports of Vancouver bus operators wearing, in one case, a Hawaiian shirt instead of the TransLink uniform, as part of an overtime and uniform ban.

Bus drivers have not been wearing uniforms as a form of protest since Nov.1 as part of job action. The job action escalated as talks broke down between the Unifor locals and Coast Mountain Bus Company. Judith Zaichkowsky a marketing professor at SFU whose interests include brand management said uniforms have a bigger effect on the drivers than the passengers.

A small revolt

“I think it relaxes the drivers more,” said Zaichkowsky in an email. “It gives the drivers more of an identity, that they are having some action against management, some small revolt in a way. For the customers’ part, people who ride the transit, people who know what’s going on, I think they’re just darn happy to see the bus, because there’s been a lot of bus disruptions.”

TransLink has two options when drivers cancel because of sickness or other reasons. They can ask existing drivers for overtime, or hire extra board workers.

Christy Slusarenko, MoveUP Vice-President of Combined Units said,

“A uniform ban is one of many methods that can be used to generate public awareness about bargaining concerns with an employer. It is also a way of demonstrating solidarity”.

She said their members are encouraged to wear buttons to the same ends.

Bus drivers need to be identified

Ahmed El-Geneidy, professor at the McGill University School of Urban Planning, whose research interests include public transport operations.

“As long as they have something that  identifies them as drivers the uniform ban won’t endanger riders.” said El-Geneidy

El-Geneidy has one concern.

“Someone jumping in the driver’s seat and taking passengers anywhere without them knowing that they are kidnapped until they realize later on.” He said.

TransLink Spokesperson Ben Murphy said November 18, “The union needs to be more realistic about their wage demands. The union is still refusing to take part in mediation.”

 

 

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