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Battle lines drawn between TTC union and mayor's office

A TTC subway station sign. TTC riders boarding a streetcar. Service on the 504 King and bus routes will increase starting Jan. 5, 2014. Photo by Cameron Walker

TORONTO, Ont. – The Toronto transit said the TTC has gone too far in its crackdown on the use of cell phones by TTC drivers.

Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, defended his workers’ right to use their cell phones while not driving, when on break and where no one’s safety is at risk.

Kinnear told his membership in a note, and by a recorded message, that the crackdown on cell phone use has gone too far when drivers are losing their jobs for phoning home, dialling 911 or using their phones while on break and when public safety is not at risk.

He also claimed that 40 to 50 workers have lost their jobs for cell phone use.

However, TTC chair Karen Stintz told 680News the commission doesn’t have an issue with workers who use their cell phones when they are not behind the wheel of vehicles or while they are on a break.

Rather, the focus is on not using a cell phone while operating a vehicle.

“Operators cannot be using their cell phones for texting or calling when they are operating a vehicle,” Stintz said.

Kinnear claims a female bus driver was fired on the spot last week for using a cell phone while stopping to photograph a passenger who had assaulted her.

“He’s made some statements about operators losing their jobs for using cell phones when they weren’t operating a vehicle, and I can’t comment on that. We’ve put safety measures in place like cameras, so if there is an incident or an assault or a safety concern on the vehicle, we do have a way of capturing that information,” she said.

Stinz said there isn’t a connection between the mayor’s office and a crackdown on TTC employees.

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