Canadian feds to nix 22-hour bus shifts

March 11, 2009 at 2:41 PM
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OTTAWA, March 11 (UPI) -- Canada's federal government is set to intervene in a recent Ottawa transit strike by ruling city bus drivers can't drive for more than 14 hours a day.

In an interview Wednesday morning on CFRA radio, federal Minister of Transport Minister John Baird said the strike brought to light some union ambitions that contravene federal safety guidelines, the Ottawa Sun reported.

"Fatigue is a major contribution to traffic accidents and fatalities," Baird said in the interview. "This is a concern I just can't push aside."

For 53 wintry days, Canada's capital had no public transit and one of the issues the transit workers' union pushed for was freedom in driver scheduling.

Federal rules for bus and truck drivers state drivers can't work more than 14 hours before taking an 8-hour break and there must be one full day per week away from work. During the strike, city officials claimed one bus driver worked 190 days without time off.

Transit union President Andre Cornellier said the federal Conservatives' move pulled the rug from workers' intentions to set their own hours without city interference.

"This is why we went out on strike," Cornellier said to the Sun.

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