Greater Victoria bus drivers and B.C. Transit have turned to a provincial mediator to help resolve their ongoing contract dispute that has disrupted services and driven away passengers.
But the union said its members will continue to refuse overtime and drivers will continue to wear street clothes instead of uniforms.
More than 500 trips have been cancelled since the union imposed an overtime ban Oct. 22.
Ridership dropped seven per cent, versus last year, in the first two days of the ban, B.C. Transit said. It is down three per cent in the past week.
B.C. Transit and the Canadian Auto Workers Local 333 will meet with Labour Relations Board mediator Debbie Cameron today.
"If a mediator can help us resolve these issues, that would be great," said Ben Williams, president of CAW Local 333. "All overtime bans will be in effect and uniforms will not be worn until a tentative agreement is reached."
The union, including drivers, skilled trades and maintenance crews, have not had a contract since March 31. Talks for a new agreement have failed twice in the past month and the union stopped working overtime shifts after the second breakdown in negotiations two weeks ago.
What used to be a disagreement over wages and benefits has evolved into a stalemate over B.C. Transit's purchase of 15 shuttle buses, five of which will be used in Victoria.
The union wants the Vicinity buses to be operated by drivers with more training and higher pay.
"Clearly, the sticking point is the demand by B.C. Transit to have part-time, lower paid and lesser trained drivers carry up to 39 passengers on the new imported Chinese-built Vicinity bus," Williams said.
Transit and the union were contacted by the Labour Relations Board this week after both sides stated publicly they would be willing to go to mediation.
"This is the tool we need to move beyond this one stumbling block, sign a contract and get back to work," said Meribeth Burton, spokeswoman for B.C. Transit.
Williams has not heard from the Vicinity bus manufacturer since the company threatened him with legal action for comments he made about the safety of the vehicles.
Grande West Transportation International asked for a public apology, but never received it. email@example.com
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