Union urges affected residents to contact BC Transit, demand action from First Transit.
CUPE 561, the union representing striking Fraser Valley transit workers employed by the foreign-owned corporation First Transit, today shared some of the feedback they’ve received from members of the public expressing concerns about the job action’s negative impacts on their daily lives.
The union says that public support has been strong from the beginning, but that—since the full withdrawal of services began on March 20, reducing transit in the area to essential service levels for HandyDART— the union has received several messages from the public about the strike’s disruptive impacts on life in the Valley.
“Our members are residents of the Fraser Valley, too, and many of them also rely on transit to get around their community, so it pains them to hear what their neighbours are going through,” said CUPE 561 President Jane Gibbons. “Unfortunately, our efforts to share these concerns with BC Transit, which contracts the service to First Transit, have gone unanswered.”
The union says it has heard from people who live on disability and rely heavily on public transit, people who can’t get to their jobs or have lost their jobs—or who have accumulated high taxi and Uber bills to keep them. They’ve heard from people who have missed doctor’s appointments and from students who, in the middle of exam time, cannot get to the University of the Fraser Valley campus with transit alternatives such as carpooling, biking or walking. Taxi rides in some cases cost more than $100 one way for these students.
“One student even begged us to make an exception and resume the bus line to UFV. I really wish job action could work that way, but unfortunately, it doesn’t,” said Gibbons.
“Our members did not want to go on strike – they were left with no choice. They need and deserve to be able to work under the same wages and conditions that other transit workers do, and with a pension, so they can provide better service to Fraser Valley residents. That’s why we are asking the public to contact BC Transit directly: by sending them a letter from www.weneedalift.ca, and sharing these same personal stories about the strike’s impact, transit users can help us finally get through to BC Transit, to try to end this strike.”