Archive for Uncategorised

GRT Payroll Notice from Management

January 29, 2021

Posting Date: January 29, 2021
Removal Date: February 5, 2021

You may have experienced a delay in your pay being deposited to your bank account today. We expect that everyone will be paid by the end of the day. Financial Institutions have until 11:59 p.m.
to deposit pays into the designated account. If you do not receive your pay by 11:59 p.m. today, please contact Bonny Muthuveren in Payroll ( Payroll will
endeavour to make the payment by direct deposit within one (1) payroll working day (Article 52.4).

Peter Zinck
Director, Transit Services

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Homewood – Part of your Employee & Family Assistance Program

Many employees with the Region of Waterloo are aware that Homewood is part of their Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP), but many do not know about all that Homewood provides to our members.  Homewood provides more than just mental health services in times of need but offers a variety of services to help employees who need assistance.

Members are encouraged to visit, and register on, the Homewood Health online portal, Homeweb, to see all they have to offer!


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GRT Requirements for Face Coverings

Posting Date: July 8, 2020
Removal Date: November 30, 2020

The Region of Waterloo recently amended the Code of Use By-law (13-050) which now requires all riders to a wear face covering which covers the nose, mouth and chin while riding Grand River Transit vehicles (buses, trains, BusPLUS, MobilityPLUS buses, and Kiwanis Transit). The By-law also requires customers to wear a face covering when they are within bus shelters and on platforms of transit stations.  The by-law change is effective Monday July 13, 2020.

As ridership continues to grow, it will become increasingly more difficult to maintain physical distance. Masks, or face coverings are an additional tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, because wearing a mask can help contain the wearer’s own droplets.

What is a face covering?

A face covering can be any of the following:

  • Mask (disposable or washable)
  • Clothing
    • Bandana
    • Scarf
    • Any other clothing that covers the mouth, nose and chin

For Customers

  • Customers are required to wear a face covering when entering MobilityPLUS, Conventional, BusPLUS, Kiwanis Transit and Light Rail vehicles.
  • Customers are also required to wear a face covering when in an enclosed shelter or building area or on platforms of a transit station. (e.g. Fairway Station, Ainslie Station, Cambridge Center Station and Customer Service Centres)
  • Customers are not required to wear a face covering when standing at a bus stop that is not at a transit station

Exceptions for Customers

The By-law exempts the following customers from the requirement to wear a face covering:

  • persons under the age of five years
  • persons that have a medical condition or disability that prevents the wearing of a face covering or would inhibit the person’s ability to breathe.
    • Note that no person is required to provide proof of any of the exemptions
  • The By-law applies to customer use of transit and facilities but does not apply to Regional staff or agents in the course of their work. However, the following section outlines the requirements for GRT employees and their agents.

Employee requirements for Face Coverings

  • GRT employees are required to wear a face covering when entering or exiting buses, on platforms and in shelters.
  • Drivers are not required to wear a face covering while behind the barrier.
  • MobilityPLUS operators will continue to wear masks and face shields/safety glasses when assisting customers on or off the bus
  • Employees traveling on transit as riders are required to wear a face covering
  • Employees working in Customer Service Centers and behind partitions are not required to wear a face covering.
  • Employees working or moving about in the public areas of transit facilities are required to wear a face covering
  • Employees working in non-public areas of a transit building or facility are not required to wear a face covering provided 2m separation can be maintained.

Key messages for Bus Operators – What is your Responsibility?

The focus is on education and information, not enforcement.

Employees will NOT deny service or entry to the system to any customer who is not wearing face covering. Do not ask anyone to leave the bus, building or property if they are not wearing a face covering.  For the week of July 13 when the by-law takes effect, if a customer is not wearing a face covering when they board please remind them of the requirement. As not all customers can wear a mask, the following wording should be used.

“If you are able, please wear a face covering on your next trip. Thank you”.

Also, please look for opportunities to thank customers for wearing a face covering. If an incident or disturbance arises on a bus or train Operators should follow current policies and procedures and contact a Supervisor

  • Do not involve yourself directly;
  • Call a Supervisor for assistance.

Beginning July 13, to support the requirements to wear masks, GRT employees will be out at various Transit Stations to provide a limited supply of masks for customers who don’t have one or forgot their face covering.  You will note the on-bus, platform and shelter signage and announcements will change to the new by-law requirements over the next two weeks.

Exceptions and Accessibility Considerations

Ask yourself, why might someone not be able to wear a face covering?

  • Is the child under age of 5 years
  • If a customer says they cannot wear a face covering, take them at their word and allow them to use the service
  • Remember that not all disabilities are visible.
  • Some customers may have difficulty hearing you if you are wearing a face covering. Similarly, customers may have difficulty hearing you from behind a barrier and if you are wearing a face covering.
  • Be patient. Look at and speak directly to the customer. Speak clearly and audibly to ensure the customer is better able to hear you. Don’t shout.
  • If you cannot understand what the customer is saying because of their face covering, politely ask them to repeat themselves.

Thank you for your cooperation and continued efforts to implement the many safety practices and procedures we have implemented over the last several months.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Supervisor.

Peter Zinck
Director, Transit Services
Notice – 2020-1779

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COVID-19 – Positive Case

Posting Date: May 17, 2020
Removal Date: 31, 2020

We have been made aware of an employee that has tested positive for COVID-19.

The operator is doing well.  Region staff are conducting contact tracing currently and will be informing any employees that have been in close contact with the operator and with staff physically distancing from one another we expect this to be minimal.

We want to ensure that confidentiality is upheld as it relates the medical condition of employees and therefore we will be respecting this information.

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to speak to your Supervisor.

Peter Zinck
Director, Transit Services

Notice: 2020-1743

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FT Operator Voluntary Layoffs Offer

Posting Date: April 24, 2020
Removal Date: April 30, 2020

Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, more conventional and specialized service reductions will be implemented in May 2020 due to low ridership throughout the service. This will include a
number of temporary layoffs for full-time conventional and specialized operators.

At this time, we are asking if any full-time conventional or specialized operators may be interested in a voluntary layoff.  Please be sure to note the following important items before deciding to volunteer for layoff:

  • Prior to issuing temporary layoff notices to junior Operators, Unifor Local 4304 has requested that Management inquire if there are Operators that would voluntarily take a layoff. Operators that volunteer to be laid off would be selected by seniority. If you volunteer to be laid off, you would be called back by seniority when service resumes.
  • The number of positions impacted are not known at this time.
  • The length of the temporary layoff for full time Specialized Operators is also unknown at this time.
  • The length of the temporary layoff for full time Bus Operators is expected to last until June 22, 2020, however this date is not certain and may change in the future.
  • Typically, a temporary layoff is up to a 13-week period of unpaid leave, however the duration of the temporary layoff will be dependent on when regular ridership resumes.
  • As an employee on temporary layoff you would be issued a Record of Employment (ROE) and you may be eligible for the recently announced Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”). According to the information released by the Government of Canada, eligible employees can receive a flat benefit of up to $2,000 per four-week period for reasons relating to COVID-19, for up to 16 weeks. You can find additional details at the following link:
  • While on a temporary layoff you would not accrue vacation, sick time or seniority. You will not lose seniority; however, no additional seniority would be earned while you are on a temporary layoff.
  • The period of a temporary layoff is not considered eligible service by OMERS. You will not receive OMERS service during the temporary layoff and there is no opportunity to purchase the service at a later date.
  • You will continue to be entitled to receive your health benefits for up to six months from the date that you are laid off, provided you pay the appropriate premiums to continue coverage after the first 30 days. You have the option of maintaining all or portion of your benefits. The premium cost to maintain your benefits are below:

Family Coverage:

Option 1: Purchase entire benefit package including Family Health, Family Dental, LTD and Life Insurance.
Monthly cost – $1081.80

Option 2: Purchase Family Health and Family Dental benefits only.
Monthly cost – $699.07

Option 3: Purchase LTD and Life Insurance.
Monthly cost – $382.73

Option 4: Terminate benefit coverage for the duration of my leave. You have 30 days only to convert to a private plan if you want. Contact Steve Kidd at 519-744-4545 for information.

Single Coverage:

Option 1: Purchase entire benefit package including Single Health, Single Dental, LTD and Life Insurance.
Monthly cost – $658.21

Option 2: Purchase Single Health and Single Dental benefits only.
Monthly cost – $275.48

Option 3: Purchase LTD and Life Insurance.
Monthly cost – $382.73

Option 4: Terminate benefit coverage for the duration of my leave. You have 30 days only to convert to a private plan if you want. Contact Steve Kidd at 519-744-4545 for information.

Please advise Cathy Clayton by email at no later than Tuesday, April 28 by 8:30 a.m. If you do not contact Cathy by that date, we will assume that you are not volunteering to be laid off.

Please be assured that regardless of the option you select you continue to be employed by Grand River Transit.

Thank you,
Neil Malcolm
Assistant Director, Transit Services
Notice #2020-1729

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March General Membership Meeting Cancelled

To all Local 4304 members,

Please be advised that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that the union hall at Wabanaki is closed until at least April 19th as a precaution to and to conduct thorough cleaning and disinfection.  As such the March General Membership Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 18th has been cancelled.

Yours in solidarity,

Warren Schnurr
Recording Secretary
Unifor Local 4304

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Strike Pay Cheques – Update

To all Local 4304 members at Grand River Transit,

Strike pay cheques are in!

You may pick up your strike pay cheque at the Unifor Union Hall, 600 Wabanaki Drive, Kitchener, during the following times:

Friday, January 31st – 2PM to 6PM
Sunday, February 2nd – 9AM to 5PM

Thank you for your patience.

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Tentative Agreement Ratification Results

Thursday, January 30, 2020

To all Local 4304 members at Grand River Transit,

The latest tentative agreement reached with the Region of Waterloo has been ratified by our membership.  The Region is expected to ratify the new agreement tomorrow (Friday).  The results of the ratification vote are as follows:

Votes in favour: 382 + 39* = 421
Votes opposed: 259 + 15* = 274

*Second number represents Skilled Trades members.

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Occupational Health and Safety Fact Sheet – Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

The following information about the Wuhan novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is being provided by the National Union for your information and to help you better protection yourself against infection.  Cases of the virus have now been reported worldwide including here in Ontario; as members who work in the public transportation sector our risk of exposure to the virus may be higher.

On December 31, 2019, Chinese health authorities identified a new (or novel) coronavirus (referred to as 2019-nCoV) through a series of reported cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China. We all have a responsibility to reduce risks of exposure to and transmission of the virus. As workers, take precautions to reduce exposure. Employers should create prevention plans in consultation with relevant health and safety committees and worker representatives.


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Some human coronaviruses spread easily between people, while others do not.

Though it has been determined that the virus can spread from person to person, how exactly the virus is transmitted remains unclear.

The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies four main types of CoV in which infections are quite common, usually leading to common cold symptoms. However, there are the rare types of CoV such as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) that can be far more serious and can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, kidney failure, or even death.

Pandemics and workplace laws

Due diligence is commonly addressed in health and safety legislation under the “general duty clause,” which places a duty on employers to take all reasonable precautions to prevent injuries or accidents in the workplace. The general duty clause also applies to all situations that are not addressed elsewhere in the occupational health and safety legislation.

How to protect yourself

To reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including coronaviruses, you should follow usual health precautions such as:

  • Washing your hands often
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick
  • Practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette

If you are travelling to an area known to have cases of coronavirus, be sure to avoid:

  • High-risk areas such as farms, live animal markets and areas where animals may be slaughtered
  • Contact with animals (alive or dead), including pigs, chickens, ducks and wild birds
  • Surfaces with animal droppings or secretions on them

Occupational safety

Workers in some sectors (for example, health care and transportation) have a greater likelihood of exposure to viruses and other disease-causing agents. Employers have a general duty to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from hazards in their workplaces. Employers in these sectors should already have effective plans in place for regular day-to-day interactions.

When new viruses are identified, employers, in consultation with their health and safety committees or worker representatives, should follow an appropriate hazard-assessment methodology that looks at the virus and considers if existing controls are appropriate. The goal of a prevention plan must be to eliminate exposure to the infectious virus as much as possible. The selection of controls should be guided by a hierarchy of controls and include both engineering and administrative controls.

Engineering controls

  • Use isolation wards and self-contained areas and negative pressure rooms to reduce exposure when cases are suspected
  • Ensure proper ventilation with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units
  • Make plans to alter the physical space of workplaces to prevent the spread of viruses and influenza-like illness
  • Establish separate entrances and exits as well as triage areas in health care workplaces for those with suspected CoV, influenza, or related symptoms

Administrative controls

  • Develop an exposure control plan before an outbreak occurs
  • Stock and manage the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Adjust staffing levels to accommodate high rates of sick leave
  • Educate workers, patients and visitors on viruses and influenza, including the steps to take to mitigate exposure
  • Group infected patients in health care settings and limit worker exposure to infected patients
  • Combine tasks to limit the number of workers entering areas with infected patients
  • Implement effective environmental, housekeeping and laundry protocols (where applicable) to reduce the spread of viruses and influenza
  • Provide access to effective hygiene and hand-washing facilities

Personal protective equipment

  • Provide fit-tested N95 respirators or more protective NIOSH-certified respirators for all workers
  • Wear gloves, face shields, and gowns
  • Communicate policies and procedures to ensure N95 respirators are fit-tested annually or if facial features change

The use of surgical-type masks does not provide adequate protection from viral exposure. Minimal protection is usually granted by a N95 respirator. All workers who are fit-tested with N95 respirators must carry identification indicating the type and size of their respirator. Additionally, workers need to receive training on all aspects of PPE (putting on, wearing, removal, disposal, etc.).

What we learned from SARS – take precautions

In the aftermath of the SARS outbreak, Ontario established a commission to look at the introduction and spread of SARS. In its final report, Commissioner Justice Archie Campbell wrote that “we cannot wait for scientific certainty before we take reasonable steps to reduce risk”.

Campbell’s report identified the precautionary principle as an approach for protecting workers in circumstances of scientific uncertainty. This reflects the need to take prudent action in the face of potentially serious viruses without having to wait for complete scientific proof that a course of action is necessary.

Sources: WHO, Ontario Government, CUPE, PSAC, ONA

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