Vaccination crackdown sees hundreds of Toronto Transit Commission workers suspended

TORONTO — Hundreds of suburban Toronto Transit Commission workers have been suspended without pay or regular pay for refusing to vaccinate their children, despite a court ruling that the union says was intended to…

Vaccination crackdown sees hundreds of Toronto Transit Commission workers suspended

TORONTO — Hundreds of suburban Toronto Transit Commission workers have been suspended without pay or regular pay for refusing to vaccinate their children, despite a court ruling that the union says was intended to prevent others from continuing to seek work through that route.

Canada’s Labor Relations Board previously ordered the TTC to reinstate the 130 or so workers after the Rail, Tram and Bus Union joined Canadian unions in a legal challenge to the agency’s vaccination policy, which it passed in June.

But the union in October filed an appeal with the Ontario Court of Appeal in hopes of having the injunction quashed. In an Oct. 31 notice of appeal, it says the injunction requires the TTC to reinstate all workers who previously worked illegally before the court was appointed to “protect other members.”

That’s especially important with more and more suburban residents looking to join the TTC, the appeal says.

“Their (the injunction’s) abdication of its duty of intervention and deterrence in this matter frustrates the whole purpose of the Act (involving labour),” the notice of appeal says.

The Office of the Labour Relations Board will hold a disciplinary hearing Nov. 20, on behalf of the TTC, to determine whether the allegations against the 130 workers are appropriate. The dispute could continue through the length of the dispute.

The union said in a statement Friday that the injunction specifically applies to the 130 workers who refused to follow transit rules while on a regular work schedule. It called their suspensions “unwarranted and meaningless” and suggested they were in part an attempt to stop others from bringing their children onto the TTC.

“Their cases involve requests for a parent to work, all under normal procedures,” the union said. “A suspension only for parents – of all positions – is an affront to individual families and is highly prejudicial to the TTC.”

An Toronto transit official confirmed Friday that children of some parents working on-the-go, even on double shifts, were able to enter some of the city’s busiest subway and commuter train stations with an expired sick note.

Employees could have violated the agency’s rules, said Tom Everitt, the TTC’s executive director of corporate communications, “if you cannot show up for work because you are in bed with a bug.”

He said the agency agreed to allow children to take sick days in instances where they are seriously ill.

“We recognize that that comes with inconvenience,” Everitt said. “But given the results that we are seeing – and with the growing need – it is very much within the interest of TTC staff to be able to take these sick days.”

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