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Central Okanagan transit strike to be halted by arbitrator

Transit strike began and ended on Oct. 5

Central Okanagan transit workers and First Transit will need help to resolve their labour dispute.

Drivers and other workers walked off the job Oct. 5, but the work stoppage lasted only one day as Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1772 and the company agreed to go to binding arbitration late on the evening of Oct. 4.

During a news conference at the BC Transit bus yard on Hardy Road, ATU Local 1772 President Al Perissini said the union first offered binding arbitration on August 29.

“They said no. They wanted us to go on strike,” he said. “We will not give up the fight to get rid of privatization. We believe we need to put the public back in public transportation.”

Perissini said he was confident union membership would support the decision to enter binding arbitration.

“As they have done for the past eight months, to continue this fight. I know some people are disappointed in this, but I think this is our best solution.”

He added the union believes it has a better chance of achieving what it wants through binding arbitration.

“The company has told us the money is there, but they don’t want to give it out. So this is why we’ve chosen this route.”

The union is looking for wage increases, benefits, and a pension plan. Workers have been without a contract since March 2022. ATU and First Transit will need to agree on who will arbitrate the dispute. That individual is yet to be named.

There is no regular bus service for Oct. 5 except for handyDART and essential services. Regular service returns Oct. 6.

The last transit strike in the Central Okanagan was in 2016.

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