Union leaders advise striking transit works to accept new deal
A mediator tasked to resolve the dispute filed his recommendations Saturday
Union leaders for striking Fraser Valley bus drivers have recommended members accept a new contract, suggesting the ongoing transit dispute may finally reach its final destination.
The bus driver’s union has told First Transit, the private contractor that operates the local transit system, that it will recommend that its members accept the terms of a new settlement proposed by mediator Vince Ready, according to a letter sent to members and obtained by The Current.
If the employer also accepts the recommended settlement, the two sides would then sign a formal deal. To take effect, that deal would then need to be ratified by a vote of union members.
The details of the report and recommendations are confidential. The union told The Current it will not comment on the proposed contract as it waits for a respose from the transit operator.
Ready was brought in by the province to help resolve the transit dispute on June 8—more than 100 days after bus drivers walked off the job. He was given 10 days to make peace.
But a week-and-a-half was ultimately not enough time for the veteran mediator to bring both sides together. On June 20, Ready asked the province for more time. Labour Minister Harry Bains granted Ready an extension, but this time with no deadline.
Two weeks later, on July 4, BC Transit’s Rob Ringma told Mission council Ready was expected to submit his final recommendations to the province that week. But Ready wouldn’t submit his report for another week.
Forty days after being tasked with the job of peacemaker, Ready submitted his report to both the disputing parties Saturday, a provincial spokesperson told The Current. The two sides were given five days to respond.
The bus drivers union has replied and is now waiting for First Transit to do the same, according to the letter sent to union members.
If a new agreement is reached, the union says it “will work quickly to get the buses back on the road as soon as possible.”