Noon-hour rally in Abbotsford to highlight First Transit’s failure to bargain fair wages
ABBOTSFORD—A strike by Fraser Valley transit operators that began on February 2 with bus drivers refusing to collect fares will ramp up on Monday and Tuesday with the full withdrawal of services except for HandyDART, says CUPE 561, the union representing First Transit workers in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and the surrounding region.
On Monday, the union will also hold a noon-hour rally at Abbotsford City Hall to raise public awareness about the issues of low wages, the lack of a pension, and poor working conditions that led to the job action.
“We had hoped to reach a fair collective agreement without any disruption in service, but First Transit had other ideas. The company cannot be surprised that we have arrived at this point,” said CUPE 561 President Jane Gibbons.
“We were clear when this job action began that we wanted to cause as little inconvenience as possible to the riding public. We wanted to give residents ample notice of what might lie ahead if First Transit did not come to the table with a different approach. But the company did not hear that message and simply refuses to recognize its responsibility to bring compensation for these workers in line with that of other transit workers in the region.”
Gibbons added that fair compensation, including a pension plan, will help create a more sustainable transit system throughout the region. CUPE 561 is encouraging members of the public to visit www.weneedalift.ca and call on their local representatives to urge First Transit to return to the table with a fair offer.