Kelowna bus drivers offered 9% over three years: First Transit | Canadian

Just a day ahead of when Kelowna area bus drivers are expected to walk off the job the company is stepping beyond the bargaining table and offering details on what’s on offer to the union.

“Kelowna, like the rest of B.C. and Canada, is facing significant economic challenges as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all seen and experienced the impact of factors such as inflation and increasing costs it can bring right across the economy,” First Transit said in a statement.

“That is why First Transit proposed a three-year settlement, with total wage increases of up to 9% over three years. This includes COLA-related adjustments in years two and three. This wage offer would provide an important support to our ATU (Amalgamated Transit Union) employees as Kelowna’s economy continues to adjust to post-COVID conditions.”

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UBCO students express concern over possible transit strike

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The company, which said it didn’t want to bargain in the media, sent out a press release outlining the offer and noting that this wage proposal, if taken, would mean that Kelowna transit workers will have seen wage increases in aggregate of approximately 24 per cent over the last 12 years.

“We have proposed adding 13 full-time operator positions with benefits packages to the bargaining unit – representing an increase of 11 per cent to the full-time workforce serving Kelowna,” the company said.

Click to play video: 'UBCO students express concern over possible transit strike'

UBCO students express concern over possible transit strike

UBCO students express concern over possible transit strike

“While ATU Local 1722 has the right to its own bargaining position, First Transit feels strongly these elements are all part of a comprehensive and sustainable offer that balances the needs of all stakeholders in Kelowna’s transit system with our desire to ensure we are able to continue to attract and retain skilled and talented workers.”

The company said its team of negotiators remains ready to sit down and engage in constructive collective bargaining with ATU Local 1722 representatives.

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Read more:

Central Okanagan bus drivers plan to strike next week

The union has maintained its strike deadline and has indicated its intention to walk off the job Wednesday.

The company said they remain hopeful that they can reach a negotiated solution prior to this deadline, but are making preparations for escalating strike action.

The possibility of no bus service is causing stress among many students at UBCO who depend on public transit to get to and from class every single day.

“Students without public transit won’t be able to go to work, access their education, access medical care, buy groceries – so it’s really a pivotal system in our community that needs to be well funded and well supported,” said UBCO Student’ Union VP External, Cade Desjarlais.

According to the Students’ Union, more than 12,000 students are enrolled at the Kelowna-based campus, and roughly 20 per cent of those students use transit to get to and from campus daily.

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