The union representing bus drivers in the Comox Valley and Campbell River is meeting with their employer and a mediator Monday and Tuesday to try and find some common ground.
The union is now in legal position to strike, but Gavin Davies with Unifor says they are still hoping for a solution. He adds whatever the outcome of the latest talks, drivers are committed to making sure passengers won’t be caught off guard by any job action.
“We don’t have anything planned just yet, that may happen in the next several weeks,” he says. “If we do do anything at first, it will be not wearing uniforms or things like that. We still have to build our strategy of what would happen. We’re ever hopeful we can get something done [Monday] or Tuesday.”
Davies says the union is still trying to negotiate a contract that addresses the wage disparity with drivers, mechanics and cleaners in similar-sized communities. The difference is around $4.50 per hour and their employer PWTransit, which operates under contract with BC Transit, has not offered to close the gap.
Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle says members deserve fairness when it comes to doing the same work and driving the same equipment, and should receive the same wages.
The union has been without a contract since this spring. Members voted in favour of striking in September. Routes in both communities have been plagued with cancellations because of a shortage of drivers, and the company has been struggling to recruit new employees.