Comox bus drivers vote in favour of strike amid staff shortages

Comox bus drivers vote in favour of strike amid staff shortages
BC Transit/Twitter

About 93 per cent of union workers at Unifor Local 114 in Comox have voted in favour of potential strike action as workers continue to negotiate with employer Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), a contractor of BC Transit.

The Comox Valley Regional Transit System has been contending with labour shortages, leading to route alterations and cancellations earlier this month.

The union says its members are looking for similar wages to other similar-sized transit operators on Vancouver Island and across B.C.

Mechanics in Comox make $4.50 less an hour compared to transit mechanics in Whistler, according to the union. Both Whistler and the Comox Valley transit systems are operated by Pacific Western Group.

The potential strike action would occur in October if a deal can’t be reached at upcoming meetings on Oct. 11 and 12.

If a deal isn’t reached, the union says it will “communicate any service disruption to the public well in advance.”

“The wage gap for contracted transit companies is unacceptable,” said Unifor Western regional director Gavin McGarrigle in a release Thursday.

“If our members are going to be doing the same work and driving the same equipment, they should be making the same wages as transit workers in other parts of the province,” he said.

Steve Antil, PWTransit’s director of operations, says it is committed to continuing with negotiations.

“PWTransit is committed to continuing negotiations with our employees and reaching a fair agreement,” Antil said in a statement to CHEK News. “There are bargaining sessions between the parties scheduled in October.”

BC Transit says it is monitoring the situation and hopes the two parties find a resolution.

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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