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B.C. labour minister appoints mediator in Fraser Valley transit strike

Vince Ready given 10 days to secure resolution in strike impasse between First Transit, CUPE 561
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More than 100 people attended a rally at Five Corners in downtown Chilliwack on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 supporting CUPE 561 workers sidelined by the Fraser Valley transit strike. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

A veteran labour mediator will have 10 days to bring the parties in the Fraser Valley transit strike to a resolution.

Labour minister Harry Bains announced his appointment of Vince Ready as mediator on Thursday in the ongoing labour impasse between First Transit and CUPE Local 561.

“This dispute has been incredibly challenging for everyone who relies on the bus service,” the minister underlined in a release.

The strike suspended bus service since March 20.

“The prolonged absence of transportation has had real impacts on residents in the region.”

All conventional public transit from Abbotsford to Hope was halted with the exception of some HandyDart essential services in Abbotsford.

The minister considered going the mediator route in April, but at the time was quoted saying the parties were not ready.

RELATED: Labour minister said parties weren’t ready for mediation in April

“After recent talks with both parties, I have appointed Vince Ready as a special mediator in the ongoing labour dispute involving First Transit and CUPE Local 561 in the Fraser Valley.”

Ready is a “highly regarded” mediator in labour, business and the public-sector, he noted.

“I am confident he will do everything he can to help the parties end this labour dispute.”

According to sections of the Labour Relations Code, a special mediator can be of assistance settling the terms of a collective agreement and then reports back to the minister.

“Vince Ready will work with the parties for up to 10 days to secure a resolution to the ongoing strike. If a settlement cannot be reached within this timeline, he will issue recommendations to end the dispute, with both parties having five days to accept or reject the recommendations.

“It is important that both sides work toward a fair resolution at the bargaining table, which is the best place for a collective agreement to be reached.”

The impasse is between the transit workers of CUPE 561, who are seeking better wages and a pension, and the employer, First Transit, an American company contracted out by BC Transit.

RELATED: Chilliwack council joins chorus asking minister to appoint mediator

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
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