Kelowna employees, First Transit conform to binding arbitration

(UPDATE: Oct. 5 @ 8:36 am): BC Transit has confirmed that normal service will resume at 5:28 am on Thursday.

“BC Transit sincerely apologizes for the temporary disruption of service today,” the crown corporation explained.

“We remind customers handyDART service for riders requiring transportation to renal dialysis, cancer treatment, multiple sclerosis and other specialist appointments has been deemed essential and will continue to operate during this service disruption today. All other pre-booked trips will be notified of cancellation. “

(UPDATE: Oct. 5 @ 7:44 am): First Transit and ATU Local 1722 have agreed to binding arbitration, according to Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.

Basran posted on Instagram this morning that he is “pleased” the two parties have consented to talks “in order to come to a new agreement.”

He added: “That means full transit service will continue again tomorrow.”

(Original story: Oct. 4 @ 3:15 pm): Once buses leave the streets of the Central Okanagan tonight, they will stay parked for a while.

Members of ATU Local 1722, the union that represents Kelowna Regional Transit workers, will engage in a full work stoppage beginning at 4 am on Wednesday.

It will begin just over a month after members voted 97% in favor of a strike and began a series of escalating job actions like refusing fares and overtime shifts.

<who>Photo Credit: ATU Local 1722</who>Drivers ditched their uniforms a month ago as part of escalating job action.”  data-src=”” style=”margin: 5px;”/ ></p>
<p dir=After announcing this strike deadline last week, the union said First Transit agreed to meet today before members walked off the job tomorrow.

However, a last-minute resolution to this ongoing dispute is not expected.

“We will try to keep them at the bargaining table, negotiating in good faith as long as it takes, but we don’t have high hopes that they care enough to bring us or this community the respect we deserve,” said Local 1722 President Al Peressini.

“Although it isn’t inevitable, we, unfortunately, believe that we will be on the picket line tomorrow.”

<who>Photo Credit: KelownaNow</who>Kelowna transit workers on strike in 2016.”  data-src=”” style=”margin: 5px;”/></p>
<p dir=Peressini noted that a strike could be avoided if BC Transit stepped in to end their contract with First Transit and take Kelowna Regional Transit under public management.

“The money that we send overseas to line their profit margin can fix many of the problems that we face here,” he explained.

“That’s taxpayer money, and we want it to stay in Kelowna and be invested in the transit system we are all paying for.”

ATU Local 1722 and Mayor Colin Basran will meet with the media at 8 am on Wednesday to provide the latest updates and we will pass them along as they become available.

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