People relying on bus service from Squamish to Pemberton are stranded as negotiations break down

After 14 weeks on strike, an all-day meeting on Wednesday between union and company failed to break the deadlock

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Transit riders in the Sea to Sky area will remain without bus service after an all-day bargaining session on Wednesday failed to end a 14-week strike.

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On Wednesday night, both sides in the fight — Pacific Western Transportation and Unifor Local 114 — blamed the other for the standoff.

More than 80 members of Unifor Local 114 have been on strike since Jan. 29, suspending BC Transit services in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.

The company operates the service under a contract with BC Transit and does not pay its workers the same amount as Coast Mountain Bus Company workers.

In a statement, PWT said it made two offers to the union.

According to them, one met the union’s requirements for pension and benefits, with guaranteed salary increases in the first two years of a five-year contract, the last three years of salary increases being determined by binding arbitration.

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The second option was five-year wage increases and converting the pension plan to defined benefits, which the company said the union wanted.

“Both of these options were presented to the union,” the statement said.

“We were disappointed when the union informed the company that it was not prepared to recommend either option to its members and walked away from the table.”

Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s western regional director, said the company had rejected any union proposals to create pay parity between PWT workers and CMB workers. The pay difference is about $3 an hour for a driver.

“It was deeply frustrating that after nearly 15 weeks without transit service in the area, the employer does not see any timelines or solutions for pay equity during the term of this agreement,” McGarrigle said.

No further negotiations are planned.


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Melvin Z. Madore