Kelowna News

Bus pass refunds offered as Central Okanagan transit strike continues

Members of the local Union of Taxation Employees showed their support for the ongoing bus drivers strike at the Queensway Bus Exchange in Kelowna Nov. 10, 2016.

CENRAL OKANAGAN – Transit riders affected by the bus strike in the Central Okanagan are being offered refunds on their bus passes as job action continues for the fifth day.

Bus drivers walked off the job on Thursday, Nov. 10 after talks with their employer, First Canada, broke down. The striking bus drivers were joined on the picket line by members of the Vernon Teachers’ Association on the weekend.

Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 president Scott Lovell says drivers and maintenance staff will remain off the job until First Canada returns to the bargaining table.

In the meantime, transit riders in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country are being offered pro-rated refunds on bus passes to help ease the strain on passengers.

To apply for the refund, visit the City of Kelowna website.

Among the unions’ demands are equal pay regardless of bus size, a tiered wage system that includes a cost of living raise, as well as a retirement package.

“First Canada completely rejected any type of pension plan,” Lovell says in a media release. “We've asked for an enhancement to the workplace RRSP contribution, which is presently in place.”

The striking Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 posted this notice at bus stops in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country.
The striking Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 posted this notice at bus stops in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country.

Kelowna mayor Colin Basran said last week that there is very little the city can do about the situation and urges the union and their employer to restart negotiations as soon as possible.

“Even if we wanted to say it’s an essential service we don’t have that authority,” Basran said. “That belongs to the province but we’ll look at our rights because we have things to provide to our residents as a city. We’ll have to see how this impacts us going forward."

Last week picketers cut off access to a city works storage lot, forcing city employees to find last minute storage of their work vehicles.

Transit riders too have been impacted with some not realizing there was a strike until they showed up at a bus stop.

“It’s a really unfortunate situation and I understand transit riders’ frustration… but these aren’t city employees,” Basran says. 

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