The British Columbia government has appointed veteran mediator Vince Ready to help resolve what it says is an "incredibly challenging" bus strike in the Fraser Valley.
CUPE Local 561 has been on strike since March, and Labour Minister Harry Bains says the prolonged absence of bus service from Abbotsford and Mission to Chilliwack and Hope has had real impacts on residents.
The minister says Ready is a well-regarded mediator in both the public and private sector and will help settle the terms of an agreement between the union and bus operator First Transit, a private company that has been contracted to run the service.
Bains says Ready will have up to 10 days to bring the sides together and come to terms of an agreement, but if one can't be reached in that time, Ready can issue recommendations on how to end the strike.
In a statement issued by the minister on Thursday, Bains says both sides will have five days to accept or reject Ready's recommendations should they fail to resolve the strike.
Bains says it's important for both sides to work toward a deal at the bargaining table to end the months-long strike, which has been stalled over benefits and the union's request for wages closer to their counterparts in Metro Vancouver.