Frustrated with the lack of negotiations since it started strike action six weeks ago, the union representing Central Okanagan transit workers has set Oct. 5 as the day when they will shut the whole system down.

Over the past six weeks the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1722, has escalated job action by doing things like stopping wearing uniforms and collecting fares.

An overtime ban was initiated three weeks ago and, according to a union news release, has “stalled service” by 20 to 30%.

“Our employers are not members of this community, and the fact that we have not heard a word from them in all this time, speaks volumes about their priorities," John Costa, the union's international president, said in the news release. "Our union only uses a full strike as a last resort since we don’t want to abandon our riders who depend on us."

First Transit is the company contracted to operate the bus service in a number of B.C. cities, including Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops, but job action is specific to each city.

READ MORE: Kelowna, Vernon transit workers vote in favour of potential strike

The union’s news release says the company is owned by a Swedish private equity firm.

“I guess their priorities are not in Kelowna or with the public service that they have been entrusted to run,” Local 1722 president Al Peressini, said in the news release.

“We need the city councils and the province to step in at this point. If they won’t answer to us, perhaps they will answer to the governments that pay them tax dollars to run this bus system.

"First Transit has left us with no other option, but to go on strike. We want to give ample warning to those who rely on public transit, to start preparing for a complete work stoppage.”

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