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Whistler-area transit strike, service suspension set to begin Saturday morning

Passengers board a BC Transit bus in Whistler in this undated file photo. Global News

Public transport commuters in the Sea to Sky region will need to make alternative arrangements starting Saturday as a transit strike gets underway.

The action will begin at 5 a.m., suspending BC Transit services for riders in Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton, and will continue for the duration of the strike.

Whistler-area transit operators say BC Transit has refused to close the “pay gap” between its workers and those doing the same tasks in cities like Vancouver and Victoria.

It cites wages, job security, pensions and a lack of benefits for nearly 40 per cent of the unit as reasons for the strike.

Read more: BC Transit workers in Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton issue strike notice

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“We are prepared to negotiate but we cannot say the same for BC Transit’s contractors in Whistler, Squamish, and Pemberton,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias in a Friday news release.

“Without a fair offer to vote on, our members will take strike action.”

Unifor Local 114 represents more than 80 transit workers at Whistler Transit who voted to strike in August last year. Since then, negotiations have failed to produce a satisfactory offer, according to the union.

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In its own Friday statement, BC Transit said it understands the “frustration felt by customers,” and reassured that the handyDART service in Squamish — an essential service — will continue to operate.

“The labour dispute is between BC Transit’s contractors – Whistler Transit Ltd. and Diversified Transit – and their unionized employees,” it wrote. “BC Transit is closely monitoring the situation and hopes the parties will find resolution soon.”

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Global News has reached out to the employers for comment on this story, and will update this article when a response is received.

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