VANCOUVER – Unifor members at Local 114 have overwhelmingly voted in favour of job action after failing to reach a deal with their employer, Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), a contractor of BC Transit.
“Unifor is committed to fighting vigorously for our transit members working in Comox, B.C.” said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle. “The wage gap for contracted transit companies is unacceptable. 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.”
The Local 114 members are seeking a similar compensation package as similar-sized transit operations workers on Vancouver Island and elsewhere in the province. The company offer did not close that gap.
The wage disparity for mechanics in this unit is $4.50 an hour below transit mechanics in Whistler.
Local 114’s contract with PWT expired March 31, 2023. The strike vote took place Sept. 10 and 11.
The union wants the travelling public to know there aren’t any planned work stoppages prior to scheduled mediation dates on Oct. 11 and 12, 2023.
If neither side is successful in reaching a settlement, Unifor will communicate any service disruption to the public well in advance.
“PWT has refused to address our wage expectations and members have shown us they’re clearly willing to walk out until we see an offer that recognizes the current cost of living and makes us competitive with other transit services in the region,” said Gord McGrath, President of Unifor Local 114.
“We’ve seen that sometimes it takes a strike to get an employer to negotiate a deal that respects the work our members do.”
Last year, Local 114 members at BC Transit – which contracted out services to PWT –in Whistler went on strike for 4.5 months, which culminated in the B.C. government appointing veteran mediator Vince Ready. It resulted in wage increases of up to $6 an hour over the term of the agreement.
BC Transit is using contractors, which is leading to long transit strikes. The company’s failure to rein in its contractors is leading to continual disputes affecting passengers with no signs of relief, says Unifor.
PWT is contracted by BC Transit to provide services in Campbell River and Comox Valley, B.C. and work as transit operators, handy dart operators, mechanics, and cleaners.
Unifor represents 20,000 members across the road transportation sector, including 6,500 transit operators and skilled trades staff working in urban transit.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.