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Transit commission won't comment on shuttle bus purchase until labour dispute ends

Nov 14 2012
B.C. Transit’s bus maintenance facility off Gorge Road in Victoria 

B.C. Transit’s bus maintenance facility off Gorge Road in Victoria

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Victoria Times Colonist , November 2012

Politicians had little to say about the purchase of the five  shuttle buses that have become the focus of a heated contract dispute between B.C. Transit and its union.
Members of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, who gathered today for a regular board meeting, refused to discuss the issue, saying they would give their opinion only after a new contract is signed.
Canadian Auto Workers Local 333 has objected to B.C. Transit’s purchase of Vicinity buses, saying the corporation wants to use lower-paid and under-qualified bus drivers to operate them.
Neither side has been willing to budge during the negotiations, leading to an overtime ban issued by the union and a failed attempt at mediation to resolve the issue.
Commission members have no legal ability to stop B.C. Transit from purchasing the buses for the region, but they will still give their opinion when the dispute is resolved.
“It would be unfair to hear management’s side at this time because that would be just one side,” said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin. “We’re not going to weigh in publicly during he middle of a labour dispute.”
Negotiations got ugly last week when B.C. Transit contracted out maintenance work for nine buses in its fleet because the overtime ban imposed by the union on Oct. 27 created a backlog in servicing.
B.C. Transit claims the collective agreement allows them to use outside maintenance crews if it lacks the facilities or staff to get the work done.
The union immediately filed a complaint with B.C. Labour Relations Board, saying labour code prohibits employers from using replacement workers during a labour dispute.
dspalding@timescolonist.com

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