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Mom left stranded by Central Okanagan bus strike

Kelowna resident Tammy Freeman, right, and her daughter are trying to figure out how they will make their monthly doctors' appointments now that bus drivers are on strike.
Image Credit: Facebook
November 14, 2016 - 4:30 PM

KELOWNA - Tammy Freeman and her daughter need the bus.

Tammy uses Kelowna transit to get from her home in the Mission to UBC Okanagan where she works in the cafeteria. Her 13-year-old daughter gets to school on a school bus, but they both need city buses to get to doctors’ appointments twice a month.

“I’ve missed (work) since last week,” she says. “The bus is my only transportation. I don’t really have anybody else.”

Both Freeman and her daughter have to visit their doctor every couple weeks, sometimes even more often.

“With my health appointments, now that there’s no bus, I’m stuck,” she says.”

Freeman says if she can’t get to work, she will be supporting herself and her daughter with disability benefits alone.

Bus drivers from Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland have been without city buses since Thursday, Nov. 10. Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 have been working without a contract since April and after failing to come to an agreement with their employer First Canada made the decision to walk off the job.

Members of Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 picketing outside Kelowna City Hall Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.
Members of Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722 picketing outside Kelowna City Hall Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

ATU local 1722 president Scott Lovell says he hasn’t heard form First Canada yet this week and says he doesn’t see why he would.

“They have no incentive to resolve this,” he says. “They are still getting paid and they are saving the money they’d be paying us.”

Lovell says his members are planning to picket the Landmark overpass on Highway 97 and several municipal and provincial government buildings in Kelowna and West Kelowna Tuesday, Nov. 15.

The union is asking for the same pay regardless of bus size, a tiered wage system and a retirement package but until an agreement is met, passengers like Freeman are left scrambling.

“Get this thing over with soon,” she implores both sides. “A lot of people are affected. The workers, even the students are suffering.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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