ABBOTSFORD—In a strike vote completed over the weekend, CUPE 561 members who work as bus drivers for First Transit in the Fraser Valley have voted 98 per cent in favour of job action.
The strike vote was held after the parties reached impasse at the negotiating table. The two sides are far apart on wages, benefits, and working conditions, says CUPE 561 President Jane Gibbons.
“We need to significantly narrow the gap with other drivers in the Lower Mainland, and that’s why we have taken this step,” says Gibbons. “Our members and their families have been pushed to the limit, and they need a lift.”
Gibbons adds that there are no immediate plans for job action at this time, with the parties returning to the table on January 17.
“We know how important transit services are to the communities we serve, and we are hopeful that a fair deal can be reached at the table without service interruptions,” she says.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents 213 members in a sub local of CUPE 561 who work for First Transit (formerly First Canada). First Transit is a private, for-profit and foreign-owned sub-contractor of BC Transit that provides transit service throughout the Fraser Valley, extending to Burnaby. The membership includes drivers, utility workers, bus washers and mechanics. Drivers operate transit buses that include HandyDART.