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TTC reaching out to retired staff to replace unvaccinated workers

Last Updated Oct 13, 2021 at 8:38 am EDT

The TTC is reaching out to retired workers as it braces for a potential labour shortage ahead of its mandatory vaccination deadline for employees.

By Oct. 30, all TTC employees need to be fully vaccinated and in the event there is a staffing shortage they are looking at a number of options to ensure service will not be impacted.

“What we did over the weekend was we started reaching out to some recent retirees and pensioners to see if they would be interested in coming to work for us on a temporary basis,” says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green.

Green could not say how long the the former workers would be asked to stay on.

“We simply don’t know what our labour force situation will be come Oct. 30. We don’t know how long we might need them,” he says. “Ideally we don’t need them at all.”

“This would be a voluntary situation if we need them. The objective is to get people vaccinated and that we don’t need to go this way.”

Green says that as of Monday, 83 per cent of TTC staff have said they will be vaccinated by the Oct. 30 deadline with the majority of those already having received both shots.

In its policy, the TTC says employees are expected to comply as a condition of employment though they have yet to say what will happen to employees who are unvaccinated past the deadline.

“We haven’t made those determinations yet, we will have more to say on that this week hopefully,” says Green.

The TTC recently filed an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board accusing its largest union of employees of illegal strike action for opposing the transit agency’s vaccine disclosure mandate.

The application claims that the directive from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 (ATU Local 113) is illegal and interferes with the operators ability to “manage the public transportation system in a safe manner.”

The union released a statement on Tuesday saying it was calling on the labour board to put a stop to the TTC’s illegal changed to working conditions.

“We have a plan to keep riders and members safe and from the beginning have called on the TTC to work with us,” reads a statement from ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos. “In response, CEO Rick Leary decided to unilaterally and illegally change the terms and conditions of employment – not once, but twice.”

The union says the TTC imposed mandatory vaccination with no communication and claims it made an illegal change to the ‘board sign up’ last week, which the union calls fundamental to how the commission operates.

“The reason that we introduced this policy to begin with was all about health and safety,” says Green. “This is the TTC doing our part to put an end to the pandemic.”

ATU Local 113 represents around 12,000 employees. The union has also called for the resignation of TTC CEO Rick Leary.

Workers at Metrolinx will be required to disclose their vaccination status by Nov. 1. They say all staff who remain unvaccinated after the deadline will be put on leave without pay.

The mandates from the TTC and Metrolinx followed a similar mandate from the City of Toronto that made vaccinations mandatory for all municipal employees.

Both the city and the TTC said employees would be exempt from the vaccine policy if they could provide proof of a medical reason for not being immunized.

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