Of Security and Seniority.

Before I continue I should make sure everyone understands I have not spoken with anyone but the male operator involved in the following situation, and then only for five minutes or so. I could very well have a detail or two incorrect. What matters to me however is the fact he was disciplined for actions that should have been rewarded, and what came of it.

Recently it came to my attention that an operator has been disciplined for coming to the assistance of another operator who was in the process of being assaulted by two aggressive male passengers known to B.C.Transit from prior situations. The reason for his being disciplined? While our operator was running to the female operator’s bus to render assistance, one of the rabble decided to exit her bus and assault him. Our operator passively defended himself while trying to defuse the situation, and in the end the two left. Did you spot the operator’s grand error?

He wasn’t on the bus when he was assaulted.

My understanding was that in the end no police were called, the buses kept on driving after the incident, and even after the two assailants were spotted later, the only thing discussed was whether or not the female operator was comfortable giving them a ride.

I call this outrageous and I call this a huge double standard. If a B.C.Transit office staff member were being assaulted five feet from transit property, wouldn’t the staff inside intercede on her behalf? Wouldn’t they call the police right away? Would charges be laid against the two thugs? Would she perhaps be allowed to take the rest of the day off? Perhaps even be offered a diffuser to come speak with her?

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.

She most certainly would not have been expected to bring them into her office to fill out forms, or discuss their possible employment, or give them a tour of the facility. And then there is the more subtle issue of letting two assailants go without charge, thereby diminishing the authority of all operators and B.C.Transit itself. We are all a little bit smaller in the eyes of the public who witnessed this event because they were allowed to walk.

That bugs me a lot. The following bugs me more.

Why was this not brought to the attention of the membership, and why was some sort of job action to protest this misguided discipline not undertaken? This incident occurred early April … should be enough time to get a few of us together and talk about it, don’t you think? The male operator spoke with me because he was frustrated and feels like both sides, union and management, treated him poorly. I honestly can’t blame him. Also, let’s be very clear, a grievance does not cut it in this situation. A stern letter? One of hundreds?

How about stern action instead.

Security is not just about spit barriers and cops on the bus, it’s about creating a culture where people feel safe taking the actions required to encourage safety in the organization. No office staff would ever think twice assisting their fellow workers in the situation I outlined above, and no operator should ever feel going to help another operator is going to affect their career negatively. As well, the law does not say bus drivers are not allowed to defend themselves outside of their bus, it simply states that the circumstance is more difficult to judge in the favour of the transit system when they do. Defeating the spirit of the law with the letter of the law to punish a driver for making a lawyer’s life a bit more difficult is counter productive to all of our goals, company and staff alike.

Oh yeah, I said in the title that I would mention seniority. Here goes.

Seniority is sacrosanct. It represents one of the founding tenets of the unionist movement. So to my mind there is no skipping or shuffling or rotating or juggling.

Simple.

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