When you take what is currently a wholly owned and delivered not-for-profit public service and turn it into a profit-driven service delivered by private corporations, there's a name for that.
By Eric Tuck
Published August 09, 2017
A number of articles have been published about our campaign by Andrew Dreschel, Ryan McGreal and others, most of them missing the most important point we make: namely, that contracting out operations and maintenance of the LRT is in fact privatization by definition. Period.
They are suggesting that the LRT will in fact be a 'public' project because Metrolinx - a provincially owned, but arm's length agency - will own the trains and other related equipment. This is a view Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger shares.
What they seem to ignore is that the people who run and maintain those trains will be hired and managed not by the City or Metrolinx - the public stakeholders - but by a company they choose to manage it for them: a private, for-profit company responsible to deliver profit to its shareholders.
In fact, every aspect of this project will be privatized from the financing to the design to the building to the operations and the maintenance. The only thing that will be owned by the 'public' will be the trains, and they will be owned not by the city but by Metrolinx.
When was the last time you voted for someone to sit on the board of Metrolinx? Right, never.
Can we just agree to call it what it is? When you take what is currently a wholly owned and delivered not-for-profit public service and turn it into a profit-driven service delivered by private corporations, there's a name for that. It's called privatization, and Hamiltonians have had enough of it.
There are hundreds of good, well-paid jobs, currently done by HSR staff. The vast majority of our members are Hamiltonians. By contracting out operations and maintenance - by privatizing those jobs - you are guaranteeing that many of those jobs will be done outside of our city.
By privatizing operations and maintenance, you are guaranteeing that those new workers will be paid much less, with fewer benefits.
And here's something the Mayor and others need to understand: even if we unionize them - and we will one way or another - those workers will not be getting the same deal that HSR employees currently do unless they extend our contract to cover all new employees.
Otherwise, they will have to undergo a new contract, from scratch, throwing away the over 100 years of negotiations that have created our current collective agreement.
We'll have two transit companies, two collective agreements, and two groups of workers with different contracts, doing the same work.
So when you advocate for privatized operations and maintenance you are advocating to kill good, well-paid jobs, done by dedicated Hamiltonians. And you're advocating to pay the new workers less and the shareholders of a private corporation more.
Do those sound like the right priorities to you? They don't to me.
Is it enough to just have a shiny new LRT train run by underpaid workers, managed by companies who absolutely must make money for their shareholders? Or can we demand better?
We think we can demand better.
The TTC in Toronto demanded better and they will be running the new Metrolinx Englinton Crosstown LRT.
And in Hamilton, the HSR should be operating and maintaining our LRT.
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