BC Transit rejected the union's offer to continue bargaining through the holiday weekend to reach contract; no new talks planned; union prepared to return anytime
VICTORIA, BC, Oct. 5, 2012 /CNW/ - The union representing Victoria capital region bus drivers, skilled trades and maintenance workers served 72-hour strike notice Friday after negotiations stalled following a solid week of collective bargaining. The Employer responded by rejecting the Union's offer to continue bargaining for a new contract through the holiday weekend.
Canadian Auto Workers Local 333 President Ben Williams said the union is extremely frustrated with BC Transit management's unwillingness to keep talks going to reach a new contract for his 650 members.
"We were ready and able to negotiate right through the Thanksgiving weekend to get a contract but BC Transit refused to continue," Williams said. "I'm astonished that BC Transit wasn't interested in further bargaining after we served 72-hour strike notice - they have an obligation to users of public transit to return to the table and negotiate."
Williams said the CAW Local 333 bargaining committee is prepared to return to talks anytime this weekend if BC Transit negotiators are willing to show up, but no negotiations are scheduled.
"The last thing our members want is a labour dispute - we want a new contract and the only way to get it is through continuing to negotiate," Williams said. "But we can't bargain with an empty chair on the other side of the table."
Williams said the union is pledging to valued bus riders that the Tuesday commute to and from work will not be affected by any union job action and that a minimum 24 hours notice will be given for any future job action that could affect riders.
"We still believe a fair and reasonable deal can be reached without any disruption in transit service but BC Transit is making it harder and harder to achieve," Williams said.
"Our members want to reach a contract so we can work cooperatively to solve existing transit problems in Greater Victoria, including overcrowding, pass-ups and lack of night bus service."
CAW Local 333 members gave their union an overwhelming 98% strike vote mandate on September 12.
SOURCE: CANADIAN AUTO WORKERS LOCAL 333
For further information:
Ben Williams, CAW 333, at cell 250-888-8696 or 250-384-4423 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, cell 778-896-0964 or 604-844-7827.