ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The union representing transit bus drivers in B.C.'s Fraser Valley has given a 72-hour strike notice and could stop collecting fares from Thursday.
CUPE 561 served the strike notice to First Transit, the contracted company that operates B.C. Transit services in Chilliwack, Abbotsford and the surrounding region.
The union says it will be in a legal strike position as of 3 p.m. on Thursday, at which point drivers will stop collecting fares.
A statement says two days of full service withdrawal, excluding HandyDART services, are slated for Feb. 27 and 28, with "further escalation anticipated in the weeks to follow if a deal cannot be reached."
The union says members make 32 per cent less than transit workers across the Lower Mainland, with no pension plan and long hours of standby time for which they receive less than $3 per hour.
First Transit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, B.C. Transit says it is not at liberty to discuss the conflict.
"B.C. Transit is closely monitoring the situation and hopes the parties will find resolution soon," the statement says.
The union has 213 members including drivers, utility workers, bus washers and mechanics.
It says the two sides have engaged in more than 20 days of bargaining since talks began in late spring 2022.
“Our members are seeking a fair deal, one that pays them what other transit operators are currently being paid," local union president Jane Gibbons said in a statement. "It doesn’t make any sense that those in the Fraser Valley should be asked to do the same job for less than everyone else."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.
The Canadian Press