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Local union optimistic strike averted
Kelowna transit riders take heart—looks like the union that represents bus drivers here, managed to avoid a strike.
“We ended up with a tentative deal that we, as the bargaining committee, are going to recommend to the members on Sunday,” said Les Milton, president of the local Amalgamated Transit Union.
Milton wouldn’t give up any details on what points the company that runs the BC Transit contract moved on, or what the union conceded, but there was definitely some compromise.
“There was give and take both ways, and we hope the membership will accept it,” he said, noting the mediator was with them Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“They earn their money. When we started we asked him how do we achieve this? And he told us it’s like an ant moves a mountain—piece by piece.”
In earlier interviews, Milton said that the union was looking for wage increases and job security measures in the contract. The company, however, said that they were bound by the provincial governments mandate to freeze wages.
The union, however, repeatedly stressed that they weren’t government employees and didn’t have the wages or benefits their public sector counterparts had.
And, until Wednesday, Milton thought they’d stsay at that stalemate until an inevitable strike came to be.
“I really believe that (Lake Country) mayor James Baker and (Kelowna) mayor Sharon Shepherd had a hand in helping us out,” he said. “It seemed that the heavens opened up and there was movement.”
Both mayors spoke out about their concerns for the transit riding public, and Baker went so far as to throw his support behind drivers.
“We didn’t want a strike,” Milton said. “A transit strike only hurts people who need to use transit, not the people paying the bills. When you look back and see all the people on the bus, it’s pretty hard to say ‘I don’t want you to go to work tomorrow.”
The news on whether the deal was accepted will be revealed Monday morning.