September 21, 2016 - 11:34 AM
"IT WAS INSULTING."
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – Over 96 per cent of the transit bus drivers, who have been working without a contract for half a year in the Thompson-Okanagan, have voted against accepting a final, three-year contract offer from the employer.
“The offer (First Canada) gave us is an absolute joke,” Amalgamated Transit Union 1722 president Scott Lovell says of the one per cent raise per year. "It was insulting."
The union represents 217 members of which more than 80 per cent voted. Of those 80 per cent, 96 per cent voted to reject the final offer from First Canada.
Close to 92 per cent voted in favour of a strike should it become necessary.
“On wages we’re only 1.5 per cent apart, but we had other things other than wages that were more important,” he says. “We’re so far behind the (rising) cost of living it’s terrible.”
He says to accept an offer far below what drivers in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island receive is simply unfair.
“We do the same job but we’re $4 or $5 an hour behind what they get on the coast and they get a pension. We get no pension,” he says. “We only want things that would make the system better and let us take breaks which we don’t get.”
The votes were cast yesterday, Sep. 20, and the results have already been sent to First Canada. Lovell says what happens next is up in the air but passengers need not worry about interruption to services.
“We’re not giving 72 hour strike notice or anything,” he says. “There are many options to address this but to remove services would only hurt our passengers. For us (striking) the last option because that would hurt our passengers the most. This is a motivation for the company, the city and B.C. Transit to get back to the table and deal with these folks.”
“It takes two to tango. If they’re not willing to do anything that puts us in a bad spot.”
ATU 1722 represents drivers in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland, Merritt and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.
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