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BC: TransLink Whistleblowers Deserve Protection

June 13, 2012
BC: TransLink Whistleblowers Deserve Protection

If you ever wondered why TransLink bus drivers and other employees rarely go “on the record” with their concerns, this CKNW story will tell you why:

Two HandyDART drivers who talked to CKNW about concerns they have about the system have been suspended.

Sources tell us the two drivers have been suspended by MV Canadian Bus --the company contracted out by Translink-- for talking to CKNW. The two drivers have also been ordered as part of the suspension to not talk to the media.

The two had said the system, serving people with cognitive and physical disabilities, was being seriously eroded.

Last year, there were thousands of HandyDART service denials. And the drivers told horror stories about people waiting so long they ran out of oxygen or lost control of their bodily functions.

Translink has defended the system reporting it has a high customer satisfaction rate.

Translink has yet to comment on the suspensions. 

I’ve heard from more than one TransLink employee that if the company ever found out they were talking to the media or to me, they’d be in very hot water. This proves they are right.

The HandyDart union is upset

The union will defend their members, two Handy-Dart drivers suspended by the employer for talking to CKNW. "We are going to vigorously defend any members who are disciplined."

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 17-24 spokesperson Tyler Felbel says members have the right to turn to the media when they have concerns.

Felbel says they believe in free speech as long as their members aren't slandering anyone, "We feel that there are concerns about the service and the Handy-Dart service in particular and the use of taxis for people with disabilities and the recent cuts to the TaxiSaver program so the union has been speaking out publicly about those matters."

He says the union is also urging Translink to make the Handy-Dart service an in-house operation.

The Canadian arm of a U-S company contracted by Translink to run Handy-Dart says they won't be commenting on the matter.

Judging by how long it has taken TransLink to react to recent bad press, I guess it will be hours—if not days—before we hear from their staff.

This is why every public body needs a Whistleblower Protection policy—to ensure people aren’t intimidated or threatened into silence.

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