News / Calgary

‘The game was rigged’: Calgary Transit union angered by layoff

60 workers let go to save cash for strapped transportation system

Calgary's transit union looking to save 60 jobs.

Metro file photo

Calgary's transit union looking to save 60 jobs.

The gauntlet has been thrown.

Calgary Transit’s cleaning and outside maintenance workers were notified Thursday morning that 60 positions will be cut because they’ll be outsourced. According to the city, they stand to save “in the range of $2.7 million.”

According to the union, the Request for Proposal only went out to pre-approved bidders, and the union didn’t make that list.

“We were not allowed to bid on that work,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Executive vice president Neil McKinnon. “There’s a lack of transparency, lack of accountability in this process and we’re upset by it, we thought we were able to provide savings.”

He said if the ATU were truly offered a discussion on cost-savings they could have saved jobs.

“Right now we’re left with the feeling we weren’t given a fair shot,” McKinnon said. “This wasn’t fair, it was rigged from the beginning…that’s not supposed to be the way we do things here in Canada.”

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This has been a long time coming, and the transit union has been fighting layoffs since council heard the Zero-Based review in June of 2016. That presentation, compiled by a third-party organization, suggested the city could realize some cost savings if they outsourced the workers in charge of keeping LRT stations clean and clear from snow.

“We’ve provided notice of layoffs to impacted staff,” read a statement provided by the city. “The layoffs will become effective June 23, 2017. The City of Calgary will not comment further on specifics around employee personnel matters.”

McKinnon said on top of the layoffs, administration didn’t follow through with council direction to engage stakeholders about potential cost savings.

“Quite frankly we had two meetings with them about this topic,” McKinnon said. “We brought forward a bunch of suggestions in order to achieve cost savings, they were not interested in listening or even responding to that.”

Councillors were given a petition with more than 1,400 signatures from people upset by the city’s choice to lay off the workers and they’re hoping councillors will give the union more time to find a solution.

“Maybe we should start from zero again,” McKinnon said. “We owe it to our 60 members who are going to be out of a job to keep on trying to change this decision that transit has made.” 

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