ORNGE: System Update

ORNGE: System Update

February 18, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to take the opportunity to brief you about several issues that are occurring in a number of our bases throughout the system.

Early last year the company approached the union to advise that they wanted to implement a staggered shift pattern at 4 of our bases. We were immediately opposed to the idea and stated it would be more appropriate for the company to address this issue during collective bargaining 2009. By summer of 2008, the company wanted to travel to the bases in order to consult with the members and hear your input. We insisted that we be a part of these meetings. As expected, members were opposed to the idea. Despite your opposition, the company went ahead and implemented the staggered shift starts, citing that it would reduce “duty outs”, and “shift overruns” while at the same time provide better call coverage. We convinced the company instead of a 12-month trial, implement a 6-month trial period. As expected, the staggered shift program is not succeeding for what it was intended. For example, according to our statistics, in Thunder Bay the 790 A/C shift overruns, and duty outs have increased dramatically. The trial period is to expire in May. If the company wants to continue this shift pattern, we will argue again that such a drastic change to the schedule should be brought forward at 2009 bargaining.

Last summer the union became aware of a number of Health and Safety concerns attached to the newly added aircraft – Air Bravo PC12 – 790. We immediately and aggressively addressed these issues with the company. Unfortunately, the issues have yet to be resolved. During our Labour Management Meeting in October of 2008, the union had been given assurances again, that they would sit down with us and review all our concerns and quickly find a resolution to them. On October 14th, 2008, the Thunder Bay Vice Chairperson, Mike Curry, along with several of our medics sat down with the Director of Ornge Aviation and created an 11-item action list. Due to the fact that several issues still had yet to be resolved, a letter was sent by the union on Jan. 24, 2009, requesting the company to provide us with time frames attached to each of the action items. The company never responded. On Feb. 4th I escalated our concerns directly to the VP of Aviation and Feb. 6th, the company did respond to our concerns. The union will continue to work with management to ensure that all the issues are resolved to our satisfaction.

Also last summer the union was involved in the creation of policy 2.21, “Deployment on other Ornge Vehicles”. We felt that it was in our memberships’ best interest to participate in the writing of the language. This would allow some goverence on when and how these situations would occur. Since the signing of the document we know that it is an almost daily occurrence for our Thunder Bay members as well as others to continue to be deployed on another vehicle that they are not assigned to. A grievance has been filed and we are at Step 3 of the grievance process. We are not arguing that these occurrences should not happen, but we are troubled at the frequency in which they are occurring. We will proceed until we have exhausted all means in order to have this policy upheld.

Additionally, the union developed language with the company for “Alternate Dispatch” situations. I can tell you that we never did sign off on final language of this document.

The union cited two specific reasons for this:

  1. The pay structure of the SA carrier flight crews. The flight crew are paid directly in relation to the miles that they fly.
  2. The flight crew also has 24 hr standby period. We contend that this possesses a potential safety risk. We believe that if alternate dispatch situations were to occur then the same standards that are known from our dedicated fleet should be met. Even though we have not agreed to the policy in full, the policy must be adhered to in order to prevent sidetracking of safety measures. A grievance has also been filed to ensure that the processes are followed.

Schedules have also continued to be one of our biggest issues. The scheduling department continues to have members perform CME on their days of rest. In addition, we continue to identify excessive fluctuations, along with unnecessary and unwarranted changes to member’s schedules. We will continue to aggressively pursue these concerns on your behalf to ensure that these occurrences do not happen.

Finally, our Health and Safety committee has been working diligently on several issues and will continue to do so. One of the most recent issues is the implementation of the new ELT frequencies, as of Feb. 1st 2009. Even though this issue was identified to the company several years ago, the carriers have failed to install the new devices prior to the deadline. As an interim solution, a “ Spot Tracker” device has been purchased for all aircraft. We will continue to actively pursue the company until the new ELTS’s are installed.

The union has and will continue to work on your behalf. We are dedicated to ensure that the CBA is upheld and your safety is not compromised. With that said, each member has the responsibility to ensure that they understand their rights under the CBA and to ensure their rights are upheld. There are still vice chairpersons positions open in Peterborough, GTA, and Sudbury along with a Northern Bargaining Representative position, despite the recent call for nominations. I cannot emphasize enough that if you, the general membership do not get involved in, and actively participate, then as a group we become weaker and less effective in upholding our rights. Our strength is in numbers and when we are united! I will continue to update you as the matters unfold. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me directly.


In Solidarity,

Chuck Telky


For more information:
Chuck Telky  |  Tel: (416) 275-2677