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After Fatality, Unions Force Safety Measures at Transit Authority

On February 14, 2017, a Winnipeg Transit bus operator and ATU Local 1505 member was fatally stabbed while performing his duties. Prior to the arrival of police and emergency services, the first person to attend to the scene was a Winnipeg Transit supervisor and member of WAPSO/IFPTE Local 162. This is the first recorded violent fatality of a transit operator in Canada.

The death of Irvine Jubal Fraser, 58, shocked the city. Hundreds of ATU Local 1505 members, union activists, and members of the community rallied in support of transit operators in front of city hall on February 17th. In response to the fatality, the standing committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works (IRPW) passed a motion on February 28th calling for a complete review of Winnipeg Transit safety procedures and for a report to be submitted at the May 30th meeting of the committee.

Months went by and no efforts were made by the city of Winnipeg to consult with WAPSO regarding safety and security on Winnipeg Transit. ATU Local 1505 also found consultations with the city were non-existent. On May 18th, WAPSO staff held a focus group session with members employed at Winnipeg Transit. The staff were able to gather valuable information regarding the safety and security of Local 162 members. Difficulties with communications equipment, working alone or in isolation, inadequate training, and inadequate enforcement capabilities were cited. The Local compiled a report on the findings and devised a strategy moving forward to ensure the members concerns would be heard.

On May 30th, the civic administration submitted its report to the standing committee on IRPW. Included in the report were budgetary items for the addition of four Point Duty Inspector FTEs, including outfitting costs and 2 vehicles; and non-budgetary items such as the launch of a “See Something, Say Something” public campaign to report activities contrary to the Public Transit By-Law.

One of the most important recommendations is the creation of a Transit Advisory Committee through consultation with ATU Local 1505 and WAPSO. Local 162 president, Michael Robinson, presented at the standing committee, indicating the report was a good initial step, that the Local was disappointed with the lack of consultation prior to the committee’s report being submitted. President Robinson was also able to articulate the Local members' concerns such as poor communications equipment, working alone or in isolation, and lack of enforcement capacity.

Local 162 will continue to work with the city to ensure its members could perform their duties safely and securely.

5/30/2017 - Transit-safety Improvements Pass First Hurdle, Union Representing Supervisors Says They Weren't Consulted (CBC News)

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