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Beginning at nine o’clock Monday morning, dozens of bus drivers of the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) converged on the Montreal courthouse, in solidarity with a colleague, who was the victim of a serious assault on April 24.

“It could have happened to any one of us. He is unable to be here today as one of his alleged aggressors appears in court. We want him to know we are with him,” explained union spokesperson Stéphane Lachance.

The alleged aggressors are accused of aggravated assault. The incident was widely publicized as a camera on board the bus filmed the assault. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident.

In 2012, there were 66 acts de violence against City of Montreal bus drivers. According to health and safety experts, only 25 per cent of violent acts are reported.   

“A society that values public transit must also ensure that bus drivers can work in complete safety,” the union representative added.

Official launching of the petition

June 17 is also the day that the bus drivers’ union officially launches a petition to counter violence against its members. Many drivers are travelling on board STM buses to encourage passengers to sign a petition requesting that the House of Commons amend the Criminal Code to provide for more severe penalties for assaults committed against bus drivers. It is hoped that such penalties will serve as a deterrent.   

The citizens of Montreal can meet drivers gathering signatures during rush hours (from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.) at the following stations: Côte-Vertu, Henri-Bourassa, Berri, Jean-Talon, Snowdon, Honoré-Beaugrand, Mont-Royal, McGill, Angrignon and Bonaventure.

“You should not lose your life trying to earn a living,” concluded Lachance.

STM (CUPE 1983) represents 4,300 members including bus drivers, subway operators and transport related services.

With over 111,000 members in Quebec, CUPE represents some 6,800 urban transportation employees in Quebec.