Canadian Auto Workers Local 333 - Bus drivers give union overwhelming 98% strike vote mandate to return to stalled contract talks with BC Transit on Friday

VICTORIA, Sept. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Victoria bus drivers and other transit workers gave their union an overwhelming strike vote mandate tonight to take into stalled collective bargaining negotiations on Friday, voting 98% in favour of job action - but only if necessary.

CAW Local 333, representing 650 Greater Victoria transit operators, skilled trades and maintenance workers, held the strike vote today after bargaining for a new collective agreement with BC Transit broke down last week.

CAW Local 333 President Ben Williams says the union believes a fair and reasonable contract can be reached - but only if BC Transit management starts addressing the clear mandate members gave the union in the strike vote, which had a very strong turnout.

"The last thing we want is to take any form of job action that might disrupt transit service - and we are not serving 72-hours strike notice," Williams said. "But our members overwhelmingly rejected the last offer tabled by BC Transit and directed us to return to bargaining with a strong message for management."

"BC Transit proposed a wage increase of 1% per year over three years - an offer less than the 3.5% over two years that the provincial government offered BC Government and Service Employees Union members," said Williams.  "Our members are not willing to accept less than BCGEU members already rejected."

Williams said it is up to BC Transit to come back with an improved financial offer while addressing contracting out and other contract language.

"We will negotiate as long as it takes, we will do everything we can to reach an agreement but there has to be movement on the part of BC Transit," Williams said.

"We believe that a new collective agreement with BC Transit will allow us to work cooperatively to solve existing transit problems in Greater Victoria, including overcrowding, pass-ups, lack of night bus service and other difficulties that make it harder for riders to use public transit," Williams said.

Williams added that additional bargaining dates are scheduled in September and October, while the current contract expired March 31.  He noted that handyDART drivers are under a separate collective agreement and are not part of the strike vote.


For further information:

Ben Williams, CAW 333, at 250-384-4423 or cell 250-888-8696 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, cell 778-896-0964 or 604-844-7827.


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