Bus union gets strike mandate for Comox Valley and Campbell River

About 60 bus drivers and transit mechanics in the Comox Valley and Campbell River have voted 91 per cent in favour of striking.

About 60 bus drivers and transit mechanics in the Comox Valley and Campbell River have voted 91 per cent in favour of striking, but the union hopes to avoid job action as it continues to negotiate with B.C. Transit.

At issue is funding of the benefit plan provided by Watson & Ash Transportation, the contractor that provides public bus and HandyDART service on behalf of BC Transit.

“The employer has offered a two-per-cent wage increase in line with the rest of government, but they want to claw back out of that two per cent the cost of the benefit premium increase,” said Stu Shields of the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW). “And we’re just saying ‘Sorry, no.’ BC Transit settled with two and two with their workers, and of course the benefits went up there just like anywhere else.”

In other words, the union can either cut the benefits or pay the increases itself.

At $22.51 per hour, Shields said workers in Comox, Courtenay and Campbell River receive the lowest hourly pay among transit employees in B.C. Bus drivers’ hourly earnings in Victoria range from $23 to nearly $27.

Shields notes the employer is speaking with the benefits provider to lower costs, and will speak with other providers.

“We have a good relationship with this employer, but we do have this fundamental dispute,” he said. “We’re not trying to surpass. We would like to get them closer to the bottom, rather than being so far behind everyone else.”

The two sides will meet again at the end of the month to discuss benefit options.

“There’s no immediacy to the strike vote, etc.,” said Darren Richards, general manager of Watson and Ash. “We’re hoping to come to an agreement sooner rather than later.”

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Just Posted

Moms of those killed by illicit opioids take to B.C. Legislature in call for action

Moms Stop the Harm, a nationwide network of families who have lost loved ones to overdoses rally

Taxing Vancouver Island

Big Read: find out which communities are paying the lowest and highest taxes on Vancouver Island

Y2K Spitfire comes home

Stocky Edwards guest of honour at banquet

Crown Isle acquires Longlands Golf Course

The Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community just got a little bit… Continue reading

Heliports certified at Comox Valley, Campbell River hospitals

Both sites should see heliports up and running by late summer

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

B.C. teacher ends Jeopardy! winning streak, taking home US$69,000

Ali Hasan, from New Westminster, has been gaining fans as a “one-man invasion,” says Alex Trebek

Jett Woo highlights 5 Canucks choices on Day 2 of NHL entry draft

WHL star out of Moose Jaw tabbed in Round 2

Lawyer fired in B.C. courtroom during trial for dangerous driving causing death

Dustin Dennis Zinter was charged following November 2015 accident near Nanaimo, B.C.

In a matter of hours, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive

Change was announced as a royal decree in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammen bin Salman

Feds announce measures to protect endangered whale species

Canada’s Whale Initiative is part of the federal government’s $1.5 billion Ocean Protection Plan

COC session vote approves Calgary as potential host for 2026 Olympics

Scott Hutcheson, chair of Calgary’s Olympic bid corporation — called vote a positive step forward

Mounties seize 1,500 pot plants in ‘extensive Shawnigan raid

Mounties searched a property in the 4800-block of Goldstream Heights Drive on May 30

B.C. man wins job he was denied after saying he had depression

Transport Canada has been order to give Chris Hughes a high-level job and nearly $500,000

Most Read