The union representing Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton transit workers (Unifor) has issued a 72-hour strike notice to employer PWTransit after bargaining talks between the two parties stalled.
Approximately 90 bus drivers, mechanics and maintenance workers are eligible to go on strike as early as Saturday — though if a strike is to occur, it likely won't be that early, said Gavin Davies, Unifor's national representative on the bargaining committee.
"There won't be anything until next week at the very earliest," Davies said on Thursday.
"The travelling public will be given at least 24 hours notice prior to the commencement of any job action. We have made ourselves available through the mediator, (and) we're willing to come back to the table to try and get this matter resolved expeditiously."
The biggest disagreements are about RRSP contributions, vacation time and what the union believes are unnecessary schedule changes, Davies said.
"They're not insurmountable differences, and there just seems to be a complete unwillingness on (the employers) part to try and resolve these issues, in our opinion," he said.
The parties have attempted to reach a deal using a mediator for two consecutive days without success, Davies said.
A statement from BC Transit said the dispute is between PWTransit — a BC Transit contractor — and its unionized employees.
"At this time we cannot be certain as to the extent of any job action and its impacts on transit services," the statement said.
"However, the job action has the potential to disrupt transit services and our customers' ability to use the public transit services."
BC Transit will work with the affected municipalities to communicate developments as they unfold.
"Due to the potential job action, BC Transit recommends that customers who use public transit should make alternative arrangements for their transportation in the event of any service disruptions that may occur," the statement said.
"BC Transit is closely monitoring the situation and trusts the parties will find resolution without disruption to transit services."
Should a strike occur, the union will ensure a driver and mechanic are available to maintain Squamish's handyDART service for people with disabilities, Davies said.
Serving the strike notice is not something the union members take lightly, he said.
"This puts a lot of our members into financial difficulties. This isn't something that is a big joke to us," he said.
"(Bus riders) are people that (drivers) meet every single day... they know a lot of them on a first name basis, and (many of) these drivers and mechanics, they work and live in the area."
Check back with Pique for more as this story develops.
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