Central Okanagan bus drivers file 72-hour strike notice

The union representing bus drivers in Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country and Merritt filed a 72-hour strike notice Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO


CENTRAL OKANAGAN – Bus drivers in most of the Central Okanagan filed a 72-hour strike notice today, giving their employer until Saturday night to reach a collective agreement.

Scott Lovell, president of Amalgamated Transit Union 1722, says they are forced to take action “due to the inability of First Canada to negotiate a fair collective agreement.”

Bus drivers from Kelowna, West Kelowna, Merritt, Peachland and Lake Country have been without a contract for more than half a year, and more than 96 per cent of the union’s 217 members voted to reject First Canada’s final three-year contract last month.

Lovell says First Canada’s offer of one per cent raise per year was “insulting," calling it "an absolute joke."

Close to 92 per cent of the union members 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,” Lovell 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.”

Lovell says a mediator has told them that if an agreement is not reached by Saturday night interruptions to service could happen as soon as this Sunday.

“For us (striking) is the last option because that would hurt our passengers the most,” he says. “We will make every effort to inform the public of any service disruptions as soon as possible.”

- This story was corrected at 2 p.m. Nov. 3 to remove Kamloops from the list of affected areas.

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