HandyDart dispute adds to growing discontent in the BC labour force

I feel a storm brewing…and it’s not going to be a short one.

We have BC paramedics being forced back to work by a government minister so unscrupulous that he would sell off surgery spots – most likely in violation of the Canada Health Act – while thousands off people are waiting for surgery and treatment.

We have BC steelworkers who are angered by the provinces decision to award the BC place retractable roof contract to an out of province firm.

We have health care workers who are screaming at the latest move by Fraser Health to cut back even more services and staff, putting both patients and staff at risk.

And whatever you do, don’t forget about the HandyDart employees who are currently on strike in a labour dispute with their employer, MVT Canadian Bus Inc. – a subsidiary of MV Transportation Inc.

I received a letter from a HandyDart  worker last night, who has given me permission to publish it, and I think that these workers deserve some credit. Driving a HandyDart bus is not like driving a regular bus. The patients are often very ill, infirm, disabled or otherwise unable to use the regular transit system to get to treatments or appointments.  As such, the passengers require a lot of special care and treatment,not only with loading and unloading, but with timeliness of pick-up and drop-offs.  The decision to strike was not made lightly because of these customers, but at the same time, the workers must stand up for their positions.

Here is what one employee has to say:

Dear Laila:

I am a HandyDART employee.  I have almost 15 years invested in helping keeping the clients moving.  I have been a driver, a trainer, a booking clerk and a scheduler.  Each job requires hard work and dedication to helping with the transportation needs of the clients.  

 We were happy in our work and the clients were happy with HandyDART until MVT came to Canada.  Ever since MVT took over, the service has gone downhill.  

 The unrealistic expectations of MVT have created a system that is constantly running late, having passengers on board for far too long and often getting clients late to their appointments.

The seamless system they promised still has many passengers having to deal with transfers and being forced to travel at times they don’t want.

 MVT wants to contract out my job.  MVT doesn’t want to guarantee I will get full time hours, even though I am a full time permanent employee.

MVT does not want us to have a pension plan. 

MVT is trying to make money off the backs of Canadian taxpayers while at the same time trying to take away the livelihood of some Canadian workers. 

HandyDART is a taxpayer-funded custom public transportation system.

MVT is an American for Profit Company….where do you think Canadian tax dollars are going?   The USA; that’s where.  

 We need a swift resolution to the labour dispute so that our clients can resume going to their programs and appointments and the workers can get back to doing the jobs they love. 

MVT seems determined to squeeze every penny from the Canadians they can at the expense of you and me, the Canadian tax payer, HandyDART rider and HandyDART worker.

The workers are not the perpetrators of the current situation.  We are fighting to keep our jobs, keep our benefits, resume a pension plan that MVT took away, and earn a living wage. 

We need the public to put pressure on TransLink to find a resolution to this problem.  TransLink decided to award community a based service to an American company who has no interest in you, me or the community in which we live. 

Their only interests are statistics and money.

 Please. Help us to help you.

 Donna Rae

Clearly, there is a lot of discontent among many BC workers. Lay-offs, lack of job security, low pay… the list goes on. Non-unionized workers are having to slog it out as well, with hundreds of applicants all slogging it out for the same $8.00 an hour job.  The people can only take so much heat before the pot boils over, and I’ve heard more than a few suggestions of a general strike. I’ve heard other suggestions of boycotting companies and businesses that support the Liberal government.

 Throughout all of this, one thing is clear to me.

The people are speaking. Loudly.

The question is –  Will the government listen?


7 thoughts on “HandyDart dispute adds to growing discontent in the BC labour force

  1. This is my first visit to your site & I must say I am very impressed. I am an avid reader of Canadian News at all levels of Government. What has been lacking from our media sources is a thorough investigation of the stories they print or air. Too often I believe that media outlets are more concerned about being first ( Yes I still hear them using the OLD pat on your back statement ” you heard it first here ” ) instead of being accurate & to the real issues around a particular story. Too often media outlets re-print media releases without DIGGING into a story. I’m very pleased with your style of writing & will follow ( and this is how I see it ) your reporting more often. I only wish more people would tune into this type of reporting instead of mainstream media that really only cares about being first.
    This folks is where you find the DETAILS of what others are reporting.


  2. I appreciate the kind words, Guy, and hope that you continue to enjoy the site as often as you visit.

    Sometimes my view of what news is, is nothing remotely like what you will see in the paper, or on TV. And that is the way I like it.

    ‘ veritas lux mea ‘


  3. Laila, I hope you and family are feeling better.

    I have learned over the last several months to watch Fridays, to comb the blogs, you are one of them, but I fear events (like the torch relay, Owelympics;), royal visits, swine flu) are actually used to deflect attention away from policy decisions and announcements. Have you noticed that?

    I’m afraid that, during the games, when we have no media coverage, that they will quickly make some BIG giveaways to corporate friends to secure their future carreer ops, because they know that recall will be possible soon. Like GW Bush they will raid the treasury on the way out the door,and our kids will have a hollow, banana republic with no social network.
    It gives me goosebumps, and it’s not just left wing fringe group, special interest conspiracy theory.

    Thanks for the blog=) Peace.


  4. Kim, I’m with you! HandyDart is a necessary service for the people of BC, not just seniors – but everyone with a disability. Like Paramedics, they deserve to be paid well for their services…and like the Paramedics our government sees them as nothing more than bus drivers, not worthy of mention. The treatment of both is beyond disgusting, yet the libs sleep well at night in their comfy little beds.

    The HEU contract is up right after the olympics, along with a couple of other health care sectors. The BCNU quietly signed an extension of their contract to go through the olympics, giving the government “labor peace.” Lo and behold, some of Gordo’s promises to them are already being broken. And they’re surprised?!

    I don’t believe for one moment that it will suddenly change for the better…and a prolonged general strike in BC is what is needed (and warranted) to show the campbell cabal that though we might be on our knees (so to speak), we don’t intend to live that way. Yeah, general strike…let’s start the New Year right…through the olympics and beyond!! It’s also time the union executive started earning their pay too….


  5. Hi There,

    I have been a HandyDart driver on the Lower Mainland for over 23 years now. I love my job…or I wouldn’t have been here this long. I think you will find that the majority of the employees feel the same way I do. I find it frustrating that we,the employees, seem to be getting a bad rap from some memebers of the media.
    Many of them feel we should end our dispute, be happy with what we are being offered by MVT, and get back to work. We seem to be the “bad guy” in the labour dispute! If you look at the HandyDart system in the Lower Mainland, there had never been a labour problem in the over quarter century history of the service. Until the American based, for-profit, company MVT took over.
    Why isn’t the media looking at MVT? What is their history in the U.S.? Bill Good had John Saragusa, head of operations for MVT in BC, on his radio program soon after the strike started. When asked about MVT’s history in the U.S., Mr. Saragusa stated that “…We (MVT) have never had a labour dispute in the 35 year history of our company”. Really!
    Time for the media to start doing what thery are supposed to be doing…investigating the news they report!!
    Otherwise it’s just lies.




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