Okanagan bus drivers vote in favour of job action

Kelowna’s transit workers voted 94 per cent in favour of a job action Sunday,  although union reps want assure customers a strike will only come to be in the worst case scenario.
“The strike mandate strengthen’s our position when we lobby the company for a meager raise,” said Les Milton, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, explaining local bus drivers have been without a contract since March.
“We have no desire to hurt the general riding public at all. I’ve been driving buses for 16 years, and I’ve seen people grow up on my bus.”
Union members saw the latest deal offered from First Canada, the company that operates the BC Transit contract, Sunday and it didn’t meet expectations, prompting the job action vote.
“We started at five per cent (raises) and they ended up at zero, anything in between would have been appreciated,” he said, pointing out that was turned down by a vote of 139 to seven.
 “So, we took a job action vote and now we have to give our findings to the labour board, and notify the company, which we’ve done. That puts the ball in their court for awhile.”
B.C. Transit deals with the First Canada only, said Milton, and  they’ve opted not to negotiate wages, choosing to toe the provincial government’s line by offering zero contract increases.
 Alongside Kelowna bus drivers’ First Canada contract troubles are similar issues in Kamloops. Last week they had a successful strike vote of 98 per cent.
Vernon drivers won’t see their contract expire until next year.