Transit in the Comox Valley and Campbell River systems is now starting the process to getting back on the road, after an agreement was reached, ending the two-month long strike.
Unifor Local 114 members voted 80 per cent in favour of the agreement that sees a 9.5 per cent wage increase in the first year, followed by 3.5 per cent and 2.54 per cent in the following years.
The agreement also comes with payments to the Union Group RRSP for employees past their probation period, a $5 per hour premium for Driver Trainers while performing training duties, and a $900 tool allowance each year for mechanic and apprentice members.
“Our union’s support behind our members was unwavering and brought issues such as attraction and retention and pay parity to the forefront to get action beneficial not only for our members, but for the public who rely on an efficient public transit,” Lana Payne, Unifor’s national president said in a news release.
Transit services have been withdrawn since Dec. 15, 2023. The union says it estimates that it will take about a week to get the buses road worthy, with the mechanics having started the work last week.
“Our members are looking forward to returning to work, proudly servicing the Comox Valley and Campbell River communities,” Gord McGrath Unifor Local 114 president said in a news release.. “We’re pleased to finally have a contract that speaks to our members’ needs and creates a proper work-life-balance for them.”
Pacific Western Transportation, the company that operates the buses in the Comox Valley and Campbell River regions, says it is pleased the agreement was reached.
“We are excited to be able to bring all of our people back to work very soon,” a statement by PWTransit said. “We understand that this has been a difficult time for the riders who depend on Transit, and we are working to get Transit services up and running as soon as we can safely do so.”
BC Transit says all the buses have to undergo an inspection, cleaning and on road testing before returning to service.
“BC Transit is working with PWTransit Canada on a return to service date and will be able to confirm this in the coming days,” a statement by BC Transit says. “It’s also important for transit operators to refresh their training to ensure a safe resumption of service. This is standard procedure when resuming operations after a certain amount of time away from day-to-day service.”