ATU and SFL sound Alarm Bells as Saskatoon Transit Fails to Respond to Escalating Violence on Transit System

ATU and SFL sound Alarm Bells as Saskatoon Transit
Fails to Respond to Escalating Violence on Transit System

For Immediate Release

SASKATOON-SK, April 23, 2024 – The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) are sounding the alarm bells once again as violence against transit workers escalates out of control. With assaults occurring almost daily, the silence from the City of Saskatoon transit administration is deafening. “Transit agencies just don’t care about frontline workers as it appears they believe that violence is an occupational hazard which is far from the truth,” says Darcy Pederson, President of ATU Local 615.

The assaults are increasingly becoming more violent – and are not just against transit operators but also against the riding public. 

Over the last couple of months, we have seen an uptick in violence on transit workers ranging from workers being spat on, sprayed with bear spray, being punched and kicked. As violence continues to escalate across the city, some of these troubling situations or individuals make their way onto our transit system, putting passengers at greater risk of being assaulted or making them feel unsafe. 

“The protection of all workers in Saskatchewan needs to be a priority for all employers. We all deserve a safe workplace free from violence and acts of intimidation,” says Lori Johb, President of SFL.

The ATU is extremely concerned with the lack of response from Transit officials who have remained silent, when in fact, the issue should be front and center. The installation of driver safety barriers may be a deterrent but don’t go far enough. The ATU has repeatedly asked for a National Taskforce to tackle transit violence. We need Saskatoon Transit to step up to the plate with its Union partners and implement immediate measures to curb transit violence.  ATU believes stronger enforcement of the criminal code, mental health and addiction support, along with increased visibility of enforcement officers can also act as deterrents.

“This is a complex issue that requires multi-levels of stakeholders to come together and establish best practices to minimize worker and rider exposure.  We understand that we cannot eliminate all acts of violence, but we ask the employers to take every reasonable precaution and practice to keep workers and riders safe,” says John Di Nino, ATU Canada President.