Bus back on road

Kelowna bus drivers have stopped wearing company uniforms and are refusing to collect fares. To further back their contract demands, they'll refuse to accept overtime shifts on Thursday, a move which the union says will affect transit service throughout the Central Okanagan.

Kelowna bus drivers will step up their job action Thursday by refusing to accept overtime shifts.

Almost one-quarter of the average daily bus service in Kelowna is run by drivers on overtime, the transit union says.

With the refusal to accept overtime, service disruptions are likely across the transit network, the union says.

To back their efforts to get a new collective agreement with First Transit, the private company that operates local buses on behalf of B.C. Transit, the unionized drivers have already stopped wearing company uniforms and are refusing to collect fares from passengers.

“We are overworked and have been for years,” Al Peressini, president Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1722 said in a Wednesday release.

“We break out backs trying to keep buses running because we are chronically understaffed under First Transit’s management,” he said.

Kelowna bus drivers say they get paid $5-$10 an hour less than drivers who work for systems operated directly by B.C. Transit elsewhere in the province.

No direct communication between the union and First Transit has occurred in a week, the union says.