GO Trains canceled due to ‘staff illnesses’

GO Transit is canceling trains this week and possibly next due to “staff illness.”

According to Metrolinx, the transit agency that oversees the GO bus and train lines, as well as the UP Express at Pearson Airport, up to 10-15 train trips per day may be affected.

“The cancellations are spread out over hundreds of daily UP and GO trips, so the impact to customers is limited and they continue to have many options,” Anne Marie Aikens, the transit agency’s lead spokeswoman, said in an email to Star. She did not answer a question about how many workers are currently on sick leave.

A posting on the GO Transit website Monday morning warned customers to “plan ahead and give yourself extra time.”

“We are sorry to report that due to staff illnesses, we will have to cancel some train trips this week,” it read.

The staff of the GO and UP Express trains work for Alstom, a private company contracted by Metrolinx. GO Bus employees are directly employed by Metrolinx.

Aikens said staff illnesses are hitting the trains, not the buses. But a strike vote by union members representing 2,200 GO bus operators and other transit staff could mean even more pain for commuters in the coming weeks.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587 said early Monday that 93 percent of its members voted to strike if necessary. The transit employees have been working on an expired contract since June 1. No date has been released for a possible strike.

On Friday, the Star reported that Alstom, the company contracted to staff Metrolinx trains, sent a letter inviting unvaccinated drivers, customer service and maintenance workers who have been on unpaid leave from December to return to work.

Metrolinx introduced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for its employees on November 1. Alstom-employed transit workers working at Metrolinx facilities were expected to comply by December 5, after which about 30 employees were placed on unpaid leave, according to the union. on behalf of Alstom workers.

But on July 29, Alstom began removing those workers.

“As previously notified, as of December 5, 2021, Metrolinx expected all employees to be fully vaccinated to work at its facilities. We want to notify you that this is no longer a requirement for current employees,” reads a letter signed by Christelle Migayron, Alstom Human Resources Business Partner and obtained by Star. “We are removing, from unpaid leave status, those employees who self-identified as unvaccinated or who chose not to disclose vaccination status to return to work by August 15, 2022.”

“Failure to respond to this notice by August 12, 2022 will be considered a resignation,” the letter continues.

More than 1,000 Alstom employees work for Metrolinx rail services in operations and maintenance roles.

With Canadian Press archives

Lex Harvey is a transportation reporter for the Star who lives in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lexharvs

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