Mississauga Transit is being accused of violating a bus driver’s human rights after the transit worker was suspended for five days for delaying service by taking a washroom break.
The driver had to stand in line for about seven minutes behind two other bus drivers at the single washroom designated for bus drivers at the Meadowvale Town Centre.
He then spent about seven minutes in the stall, after which he went directly back to his bus to continue work, according to union president Nickolas Bye.
A passenger complained about the delay, saying the driver failed to explain the holdup.
But Bye said it is an invasion of privacy to expect bus drivers to tell riders they’re going to the washroom.
“They didn’t discipline him for going to the washroom. He took too long to go,” he said, adding that there is no formal washroom break policy at Mississauga Transit.
“This issue of the washroom has never come up before. This is the first time we’ve had a driver disciplined for using the washroom,” said Bye.
In a prepared statement, the city said it “does not agree with the manner in which the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1572 has characterized the nature of the discipline in this case.
“The City of Mississauga’s practice with respect to washroom breaks for transit operators is clear. Employees are permitted to use washroom facilities en route as required provided passenger safety is not placed at risk in the process.”
The statement said the city would not discuss the specific case, but said, “washroom facilities are provided at the end of most routes and recovery time is built in to operator schedules so as to minimize the impact upon service for customers.”
Bye said there’s a long-standing issue for the transit system in finding rest stops along bus routes.
TTC drivers are allowed to stop their buses to use the washroom, said spokesman Brad Ross.
Formal breaks depend on the route or the shift, he said.
But, said Ross, “If somebody has an upset stomach and nature calls … what we do ask is our operators communicate with our customers.”