Olympic gig cost me my job: N.B. bus driver

A school bus driver in Moncton, N.B., says she lost her job because she took a break to work at the Vancouver Olympics.

A school bus driver in Moncton, N.B., says she lost her job because she took a break to work at the Vancouver Olympics.

Janine Kingsley said she wrote a letter to her employer, First Student Canada, in January and said she was giving up her permanent bus run and wanted to be put on the "substitute" list.

Kingsley, from Riverview, N.B., said she told her employer in person that she would not be back in the area until March. A representative of the company said it hadn't spoken to Kingsley since January and was unable to contact her when it needed her.

Kingsley said working during the Olympic Games, which ran from Feb. 12 to Feb. 28, was the opportunity of a lifetime, but that it appears to have cost her her job. The Canadian Union of Public Employees has filed a grievance on her behalf.

Bus drivers are usually considered "permanent part-time" employees. They don't have a contract, but Kingsley had a permanent run for three years.

"She had not reported in for any substitution opportunities," said First Student Canada's Maureen Richmond. "I think we'd have to have several conversations about that, but at this point she has been terminated."

Kingsley said she also worked during the paralympic games until March 21. She said she had to finish cleaning up after the event and couldn't get a flight back to New Brunswick until March 29.

Spare drivers

Kingsley said the company was in fact able to contact her when she was in Vancouver.

"The dispatcher … called me on my cellphone and asked me if I was available to work that afternoon and I informed her, 'No, you know I'm in Vancouver and won't be back till the end of March and when I return I'll let you know,'" she said.

Kingsley said she is under no obligation to stay at home waiting for a call.

"As a spare driver, I don't need to be available to work every day they call. That's just the way it is with spare drivers. Lots of them have part-time jobs or work elsewhere and you're available or you're not available," she said.

Kingsley said four substitute drivers from the Moncton area — two men and two women — went to the Olympics. The men, she said, have been hired back but she and the other woman were not.

Kingsley said she and the other female driver plan to get legal advice on the case.