March 8, 2011
Toronto transit driver fired in phone mix-up
By JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Mohammed Aden is afraid his family's life has gone off the rails after he was officially fired Monday.
The former TTC employee spoke on his cellphone while at the driver's seat of a 506 streetcar he was operating Friday along College St.
This is against the TTC's rules. But what they don't tell you is it only happened because of their faulty communications equipment.
The 41-year-old father of six was operating his streetcar when a call was coming in on what they call a "trump unit" which is essentially a 40-year-old phone system.
"I could not hear the communications people," Aden said.
The phone buzzed a second time. "I said 'Hello, hello, hello."
A third attempt was made to contact him.
"The (trump) did not work," said Aden, who came to Canada 20 years ago from Somalia. "I was worried because I was thinking there must be some emergency up ahead."
He never dreamed that finding out would get him fired.
"I stopped the streetcar, put on the four-way flashers and called in on my cell to see what was wrong," he said. "I really thought I was doing the right thing."
There was no emergency. Instead, he was chastised right away and relieved of his duties by a supervisor 10 minutes later.
"I was told to come in (Monday) where they told me it was not going to be reversed," he said. "They told me I was not supposed to use the cellphone under any circumstances."
TTC spokesman Brad Ross confirmed to QMI Agency that the trump unit was not working but that the policy is in such a case the operator needs to make a call from a land line.
"I am devastated," said Aden who was sitting alone in a west-end establishment Monday night terrified of what the future brings. "I am so, so sad."
This was his dream job.
"I have been driving a streetcar for two and a half years and I love it," he said. "I have a clean record. I have never once been late."
Outraged ATU 113 leader Bob Kinnear said this firing is part of the "witch hunt" to destroy the morale of unionized employees.
"I am disgusted," Kinnear said. "It's just not right."