Bus drivers in the eastern Fraser Valley are continuing their job action this week by not collecting fares from passengers.
They started that job action on Feb. 3, as their union, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 561, works toward an agreement with the employer, First Transit.
Now the union workers are asking their supporters to sign a pledge form online. The workers have an Instagram account called fraservalleytransitstrike where they are promoting their website weneedalift.ca. That site includes a pledge form for anyone “who’s ever benefited from our transit system here in the Fraser Valley.”
“The most effective way to motivate the company to negotiate a fair deal before further strike action is taken is to show that the public is on the union’s side,” they said.
CUPE has said that among the major outstanding issues is wage and compensation fairness as Fraser Valley transit workers make 32 per cent less than transit workers across the Lower Mainland.
Meanwhile, First Transit told The News that despite the job action, service in Abbotsford and Chilliwack so far “continues to operate smoothly at this time.”
A company spokesperson said the employer “remains committed to the collective bargaining process, and is focused on continuing constructive negotiations that lead to a sustainable collective agreement. This includes presenting CUPE Local 561 with an offer that would see significant wage increases on par with trends across the province, as well as structural improvements to enhance reliability of service.”
They added that First Transit respects the collective labour rights of its employees.
“Constructive collective bargaining has consistently been our goal, and we are hopeful that we can reach a negotiated solution that prevents further service interruptions,” the spokesperson said.
CUPE has warned that strike action could escalate with a two-day service withdrawal if a deal cannot be reached. That would be excluding HandyDART services, and could happen on Feb. 27 and 28.