Does job cuts at VIA Rail "Enhance Customer Experience"?
November 10, 2013
Unifor Local 4003 members at Union Station in Toronto wore red on August 4th as a protest to VIA Rail’s announcement to eliminate all remaining Red Caps at Union Station and Central Station in Montreal effective October 25, 2013.
Red Caps were also known as Porters, who were responsible for assisting passengers with their baggage at railway stations.
In addition to eliminating Red Caps, VIA has also eliminated several Station Attendants across the country who assist passengers with information, special needs, baggage and to the boarding platforms, and Counter Sales Agents who also provide passengers with information on VIA’s services, handles ticket reservations, sales and refunds.
These reductions were all made as part of VIA’s continued downsizing that they rationalize under the slogan: VIA’s Modernization Program. That program, according to VIA, is to significantly improve its operations, including tracks, stations and trains, better interconnectivity with other carriers and provide greater e-services. VIA also says the program is to “enhance customer experience.”
Representatives with Unifor National Council 4000 have questioned VIA’s claim of “enhancing customer experience” when the Corporation has reduced train service and frequencies, eliminated all VIA staff from several stations, have customers handle their own reservations and ticketing, and now haul much of their own baggage by eliminating Red Caps and several Station Attendants and Counter Sales Agents.
The Unifor leadership of Local 4003 and their membership showed tremendous solidarity in August.
The Local will be holding a special membership meeting with their VIA membership in downtown Toronto on Friday, November 15th at the Strathcona Hotel to address members’ inquiries and provide an update on issues relative to the changes at VIA Rail.
Additionally, the Unifor National Office is conducting a conference call on Monday afternoon (Nov.11) with its Rail leadership to discuss the next steps in rolling out its new VIA Back on Track Campaign.