School bus drivers are badly underpaid, union says

The union representing 3,200 of the province's school bus driver say they're badly underpaid, and want Quebec to pony up some more cash before next year's election.

The head of the CSN's transport sector, Stephen P. Gauley, says for the moment, the drivers get roughly $17 an hour — a paltry amount, considering the responsibilities they have to deal with on a daily basis.

"We have children from all ages, primary school and high school," Gauley says. "Some of them have health problems. We've got to deal with that. We've also got to keep our eyes on the road, and we've got to keep [the kids] sitting down. It takes a lot of attention for a school bus driver."

Gauley says they'd like to see all drivers make $20 an hour, at minimum — which he says very few of them get now. That amounts to roughly $20,000 per year.

"You take [an STM bus driver], they get $25, $26 an hour, and people picking up our garbage making that kind of money," he says. "We have the lives of children in our buses."

He'd like to see more of an investment for school bus drivers before Quebecers go to the polls next fall, and he suggests pressure tactics may be in the offing if there's no movement.

"We had a report come out in April of 2015 which set the salaries we should have," Gauley says. "The government was on the committee, and also our employers, and the school boards, and nobody's done anything with it."

He added he's been trying for the past two years, without success, to line up a meeting with education minister Stéphane Proulx to discuss their predicament.