Premium payments, new buses rile Victoria transit commission member, bus union

B.C. Transit accused of provoking union, bus 'stunt' during bargaining

A Vicinity bus

The union representing Greater Victoria bus drivers, mechanics and maintenance workers is accusing B.C. Transit of intentionally provoking workers to strike.

Canadian Auto Workers local 333 president Ben Williams said the union is being forced to pay worker benefit premiums, a move usually undertaken only after strike or lockout action.

But B.C. Transit said the move is a standard labour law practice.

“Under the labour code, in any job action … (the party) who pays the premium shifts from the employer to the union,” said Meribeth Burton, B.C. Transit spokesperson.

The two sides seem to have different interpretations of what constitutes adequate job action, however.

“The union is only taking the most limited form of job action possible – an overtime ban – in its measured and reasonable efforts to get a new contract without a serious disruption of transit service,” Williams said in a statement.

“But we are not going to accept B.C. Transit’s provocative position that the union or the workers pay their disability, life and health insurance premiums while they continue to work their full shifts.”

The other major sticking point in negotiations centres on B.C. Transit’s purchase of 15 Vicinity buses, which carry more passengers and require less training to operate than existing shuttle buses. Five of those buses are intended for Greater Victoria.

On Thursday, B.C. Transit staged a presentation of a Vicinity bus for media and employees.

Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto called the display “highly inappropriate” given that the Greater Victoria Transit Commission, of which she is a member, delayed a crucial decision on rubber-stamping the buses for Victoria routes.

The commission still needs to assess safety and accessibility features, as well as proposed training requirements for the Vicinity buses.

“The commission made a reasonable decision to delay this decision (during job action),” Alto said.

“B.C. Transit folks were in the room at the time … It’s unfortunate that the discussion we should be having has been undermined by this stunt from B.C. Transit. They’ve thrown the commission right in the middle of the collective bargaining process.”

The transit commission next meets Dec. 4 and may reconsider its delayed decision on the buses, Alto said.

Williams stressed the union will give 24 hours notice before walking off the job or cutting service.

For the latest transit delays, check bctransit.com.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Hopeful Sidney pot shop owner challenges town after application denied

A court petition has been filed against the Town of Sidney

Saanich-based pharmaceutical company stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Saanich garbage collection days to change in 2020

Check District of Saanich website to look up new collection day

Victoria council chambers packed for ongoing environmental cruise ship discussions

Union workers, neighbourhood associations and more gathered for environmental conversations

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read