Although Ontario’s striking driving examiners have rejected the latest contract offer from their employer, Serco DES Inc., “DriveTest” announced this morning it is opening a handful of testing centres across the province, including one in Thunder Bay.
United Steelworkers Union Local 9511 noted the offer was rejected by 78 percent of the nearly 600 workers.
Meanwhile, Paul Dalglish, managing director of “DriveTest,” told media in the GTA that testing centres will open today staffed by existing managers in Brampton and Toronto.
Other locations include Ottawa, Kitchener, North Bay, and Thunder Bay.
“It is time to take action to minimize the impact this strike is having on so many Ontarians,” Dalglish said in a statement this morning.
Aurora Doerksen, of “DriveWise” here in Fort Frances, explained service at these centres will be limited to drivers who need their licences for employment or who have registered for driver training.
“It will be on a rotation basis, so it may be in your area on some days of the week,” Doerksen read from information she received.
“They will be working at a less than 10 percent capacity,” she added.
Here’s what “DriveTest” will be offering for the duration of the strike:
•written tests for all classes of licence;
•road tests for commercial-classified licences only; and
•out-of-province and out-of-country licence exchanges.
“DriveTest” won’t be conducting G2, G, or D1 licence road tests.
“They are asking for the driving centres to help prep the students so that the ratio of passes is better,” Doerksen noted, saying students are expected to have read to the driver’s handbook in order to complete their G1 exam.
She is looking into running a G1 prep test since it’s possible district residents will be able to write their driving tests in Thunder Bay.
“DriveTest” will be offering service on a first-come, first-served basis—and people are told to expect very long wait times.
Meanwhile, Dalglish is disappointed the employees voted to reject the latest offer.
“We would be keen to get back to the bargaining table if we thought the [United Steelworkers] was serious about trying to reach an agreement,” he said in a statement this morning.
“However, the last time they presented a response to our offer, it included at least 10 brand new demands.
“That’s not the way good faith bargaining is supposed to work,” Dalglish argued.
The strike, which began in August, affects 93 full-time and part-time “DriveTest” sites, including the one here in Fort Frances.
Those needing to simply renew their licence without taking a test can continue to do so at Ontario Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Offices, but there is an estimated backlog of about 300,000 people waiting for tests and re-certifications.