Striking transit workers in B.C.'s Sea-to-Sky region heading back to bargaining table

The union representing transit employees who have been on strike in B.C.'s Sea-to-Sky Corridor for more than three months is set to head back to the bargaining table.

More than 80 members of Unifor Local 114 went on strike on Jan. 29, forcing the suspension of BC Transit services in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.

Announcing the plan to resume negotiations, Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle said the two sides will be meeting with a mediator on Wednesday.

"We will enter these new negotiations in good faith and will continue to bargain for fair compensation,” he wrote in a statement.

The employer, Whistler Transit Ltd. and Diversified Transportation, also issued a statement expressing hope for a resolution.

"The company understands the enormous impact this strike has had on the residents of Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, especially all those who rely on public transit on a daily basis," a spokesperson wrote.

"We are hopeful these meetings will result in a fair and reasonable agreement so our employees return to work serving the Sea to Sky communities."

Talks broke down in mid-March when the two private contractors bargaining on behalf of BC Transit rejected eventual wage parity with Metro Vancouver transit operators who make an average of $3 more per hour, McGarrigle said at the time.

He also said two years of bargaining leading up to the strike failed to make headway on demands including job security, benefits, or the wage parity issue.

The employer, for its part, said in a statement that the offer made in March "met two out of three of the union’s identified priorities," and that the union declined to make a counter-proposal or take the offer to its membership for a vote.

"We were hopeful we could reach a resolution and felt the offer presented gives the employees a fair deal and increases wages in excess of other systems. We hope the union reconsiders their position and returns to the table."

With files from The Canadian Press