No deal in sight in ongoing DriveTest strike

An average of 20 would-be drivers visit the Port Union DriveTest branch every day, despite it being seven weeks since DriveTest employees walked off their jobs.

While the strike has been dubbed “the forgotten protest” or “the strike that nobody cares about,” DriveTest estimates that each day since the strike began about 4,000 people have been unable to obtain their licences.

“Until there’s a public uproar nothing will happen,” said one picket at the Port Union DriveTest location.

Members of Steelworkers Union Local 9511 walked off their jobs after their private employer, Serco Des Inc., refused to negotiate terms regarding job security, management policy and health and safety. Serco has run Ontario’s driver examination services since 2003.

Parent company Serco Group is a U.K.-based company providing service in government, health, transportation and military sectors. The Ernie Eves government awarded the company a 10-year licence after it outbid other businesses in a $114-million contract to privatize Ontario’s driver licensing system.

“This company won the bid and that’s where it’s been going down, down, down,” one DriveTest staff said. “The morale is terrible.”

The impact of the “forgotten strike” extends to other parts of Ontario’s driving sector, including local driving schools.


While today’s McGuinty government hasn’t directly intervened, it announced it has offered a mediator to be present at talks to help both sides reach a resolution sooner.

On Sept. 30, about 200 DriveTest employees rallied at Queen’s Park asking the province to resume written and vision testing during the strike. That request was denied.

According to Jim Young, president of United Steelworkers Local 9511, their employer has proposed “language that it can lay off the most senior person prior to laying off junior employees, term employees,” students or new hires in probation. This puts the company in a position to “circumvent the employment of full-time employees” in order to save money on benefits given to full-timers.

“We’re on strike mostly for job security because the company didn’t follow the actual seniority list,” said Matt Mazuryk, Port Union team captain. “What they were doing was they were laying people off periodically and we wanted to have a little bit more security than that.”

There are two primary types of staff at DriveTest: the driver examiners and customer service agents. According to Young, their employers’ work culture doesn’t reflect the delegation agreement established when driving examinations became privatized.

“Our employer believes that the work is anyone’s work,” Young said. “When supervisors are performing our work that results in a reduction of hours for employees who are willing to work.”

About this article

By: Katrina Rozal
Posted: Oct 16 2009 8:53 am
Filed under: News

12 Comments on "No deal in sight in ongoing DriveTest strike"

  1. Why did the people of Ontario give McGuinty a majority government. You should expect this kind of treatment for drivers and in the future the HST for the majority of Ontarians. You snooze, you lose.

  2. K.Jonathan Billingsworth | November 19, 2009 at 8:33 pm |

    In the spirit of those who so earnestly demand the passing of the road test, I do propose that you try the enduring and passionable art of bike riding. Ride the two wheel gliding metal apparatus to whatever and wherever your heart and dreams aspire. the automobile is a fadding past time for those dissolved in the watery tenure of the likelihood of inability to drive. I has a licence and don’t drive.I has a license and ride the rocket of red .Try the delicious chunks of please you will gain from the discarding of that useless flash of thought:to get a license to drive.

  3. That solution is much much much worse than then current situation and if we did it your way, it would screw a lot of people over. Getting yoru license through insurance companies? You want the insurance companies to control driver and vehicle licensing how and why?? This means, In order to get your license you also MUST have insurance and who the hell can afford that?insurance premiums will sky rocket and people will have no choice but to pay them

  4. I See nothing but the inability of the government of Ontario, That is a thing that will be remembered next election for sure.

  5. How about this instead. You have to get Insurance to drive, and that’s all. Then, just have insurance companies contract out licensing services that they would like in order to set their premiums accordingly. It will solve 2 problems.

    1. Arbitrary licensing: There’s no motivation for Drive Test to pass/fail/assess the driver.

    2. Lineups: Insurance companies would not want to delay in providing someone with insurance, thus they’d be quick to carry out their diagnosis.

  6. This situation is shame for ontario government, this governomrnt has to deal with it otherwise it shows the inability to the government.

  7. It’s so unfortunate that as a driving school operator I have no choice but stand by and watch my business go downhill because of this strike. Time is running out for me. The strike will end eventually and the workers will go back to work but maybe too late for alot of the driver education business. Do I need to make a list of monthly overhead operating expenses? We have the most to lose and we’re the victims of this. Sarcastically I say…thanks alot…

  8. Yes not many people care ‘D’ but those who it DOES effect, it effects a LOT! I am currently unable to qualify for 90% of jobs in my field because I am stuck indefinitely without the ability to get a license.

    This is a government program that should be run by the government and should not have been sold to a private multinational in the first place!

    We have a right to get a license to drive and I think it is wrong and unfair that people have to suffer for the lack of a service the ontario government should provide and control.

    Huge failure on their part and sadly because it effects such a minority there is not enough voice of outcry to push things through.

    Yes, nobody cares, but those who do care, care a LOT!

  9. Nobody cares.

  10. govt must intervene to end this strike. i fully support the genuine demands of the employees. these must be heeded to.

  11. This situation is completly disappointing and absolutly a shame for Ontario governoment, this is horrible situation for Ontario and the governomrnt has to deal with it to resolve it as a matter of extreme urgency.

  12. I am afraid even to think What Will Happen After Strike – huge line of waiting students
    Private company SERCO DES has no COMPETITORS
    MTO must sign the same contracts with others companies ASAP, may be to separate tests for cars G2 G and truck AZ, DZ and bus CZ BZ – licenses

    This conflict bring to their knees all driving schools

Comments are closed.