Unifor members prepare picket signs at union headquarters in New Westminster on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. The union has said its workers will put buses and SeaBus behind picket lines starting Wednesday, Nov. 27. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

$150M sticking point: Coast Mountain, Unifor fight over wage gap as transit lockout looms

Strike has been ongoing since Nov. 1

The union representing bus drivers and maintenance workers in Metro Vancouver said they will walk off the job come Nov. 27.

The announcement came Wednesday morning in a labour dispute between the Coast Mountain Bus Company and Unifor that has run since Nov. 1.

Unifor said the full strike will run Wednesday to Friday next week, but that service will resume as before on Saturday. The action will affect bus and SeaBus service.

Western regional director Gavin McGarrigle said they felt TransLink had left them no options beyond going to a full walkout.

“In the past few days, it has become clear to us that TransLink has no intention of settling a fair contract,” McGarrigle said at a press conference at Unifor’s New Westminster headquarters.

At issue are wages and mandatory breaks. The Coast Mountain Bus Company has said it believes its offer is fair and exceeds compensation for other public sector workers in B.C.

However, McGarrigle said worker want wages more in line with what SkyTrain ones do, and a comparison to transit workers in the Greater Toronto Area.

In a statement, CMBC said it was “completely unacceptable” for riders to be dragged into the labour dispute.

“Coast Mountain Bus Company is addressing the union’s complaints about working conditions as well as providing generous wage increases beyond what’s in other public sector settlements in British Columbia,” McDaniel said.

“The union is willing to disrupt lives of commuters to get the wages it wants.”

Speaking at TransLink headquarters in New Westminster, spokesperson Ben Murphy said the companies were “incredibly disappointed” in Unifor’s actions.

Murphy said Coast Mountain was asking Unifor to come back to the table with “reasonable” wage demands.

“We have reached the point where there is $150 million gap in wages and that needs to be resolved,” Murphy said.

He reiterated CMBC’s point of view that the company hires from the Vancouver area, and their wage offers exceed others in the public sector, leading to “lineups out the door” when it hires bus operators.

Labour Minister Harry Bains indicated the province would not get involved in the dispute.

“This is a matter between the employer, Coast Mountain Bus Company, and the union,” Bain said. “They have successfully bargained numerous collective agreements together without any outside involvement. It’s our expectation that they will be able to do so again.”

READ MORE: Union to prepare for picket lines, announce new measures in transit strike escalation

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lord Tweedsmuir tops Tamanawis in all-cat fight for Surrey RCMP Classic title

Panthers’ Jaeden Reid was named MVP at all-Surrey boys tournament

Surrey students donate 2,000 pairs of socks

Initiative part of the Leo Club program

Surrey hosts grand-opening ceremony of North Surrey arena complex

‘Accessible’ facility features three sheets of ice

Trade to hometown team a ‘blessing in disguise’ for Surrey Eagles defenceman

Kieran O’Hearn gets to play in front of family, who live just minutes from South Surrey Arena

White Rock solid waste open house scheduled

Event to take place next month

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Most Read