"THEY'RE STILL GETTING PAID AND IT'S COMING FROM OUR TAX DOLLARS."
CENTRAL OKANAGAN - The president of the union representing bus drivers in the Central Okanagan says talks have once again fallen through and as of 4:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10, the buses will stop running.
"We’ve done all the work," Amalgamated Transit Union 1722 president Scott Lovell says. "We gave them another offer, we told them our three core issues. He offered us 3.25% over three years. Who can live on one per cent?"
The strike will affect all public transit buses in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Lake Country and Peachland. The HandiDart bus system will not be affected.
Lovell says it could last a long time, too.
"I don't see the incentive (for First Canada to return to the table)," he says. "They save two per cent a week not paying wages and operations of the system. They’re still getting paid and it’s coming from our tax dollars."
B.C. Transit contracts First Canada, a company based out of Scotland, to manage the Central Okanagan bus system.
The bus drivers have been without a contract for more than six months and are fighting for, among other things, equal pay regardless of bus size, a pay raise commensurate with drivers in the Lower Mainland and a cost of living raise.
Lovell says First Canada only responded to their demands after members voted overwhelmingly against accepting the company's final offer.
"We had some movement on one and a half issues," he says. "But they didn't come with a reasonble counter."
The City of Kelowna sent out a media release Wednesday promising to respect the collective bargaining process.
"The City of Kelowna is not involved in negotiations, as these are First Canada’s employees, not City employees," the release says. "City of Kelowna staff are monitoring the situation closely and are hopeful that First Canada and its unionized employees will reach resolution without disruption to transit services. We apologize to our valued customers for any inconvenience this matter may cause."
- This story was corrected Thursday, Nov. 10 to remove Merritt from the list of affected cities.
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.
We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above.