Negotiations break down between Metro Vancouver bus drivers, employer as strike looms

Unifor members will be able to legally pursue job action as of midnight Friday

Negotiations between the union representing 5,000 bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers in Metro Vancouver have broke off with their employer, Coast Mountain Bus Company.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon in New Westminster, Unifor locals 111 and 2200 said they left the bargaining table after the employer would not budge on wages or working conditions after 29 days of talks.

“We’re prepared to be patient,” said Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle, warning that limited job action could continue for more than a year.

“It will slowly but surely ramp up until we reach a full work disruption.”

Plans could include reduced fare collection and go all the way up to an eventual full work stoppage.

“We know from statistics that congestion is getting worse and worse,” McGarrigle said, saying ridership has gone up 18 per cent since 2018, and an increasing number of passengers are needing help to physically board the bus.

“What’s happening is that they’re pulling into the bus loops, they’re trying to meet the schedule [but] there’s not enough time,” McGarrigle said.

“We’re talking two to three minutes to go to the washroom or to just have a break.”

Union members issued a 72-hour strike notice earlier this week and are scheduled to begin job action as of midnight Friday. Bus drivers are set to ditch their uniforms in favour of regular clothes and maintenance workers to refuse overtime, starting at 8 a.m.

At their Surrey headquarters, Coast Mountain Bus Company president Michael McDaniel said the offer on the table was reasonable, despite Unifor’s move to walk away.

“Maintenance trades would see a wage increases of more than 12 per cent over four years. Transit operators would see wage increases of nearly 10 per cent,” McDaniel said, adding the benefits package and working conditions have been improved, specifically targeting recovery time.

McGarrigle said he wanted wages brought in line with those in the Greater Toronto Area – something McDaniel said was not realistic.

“All wages follow competition in the market that you’re in,” he said. “We don’t recruit transit operators and mechanics from the Toronto region.”

If Friday’s job action goes ahead, McDaniel said, there will be disruptions.

“While the effects will vary across the region, we will do our best to communicate all those service disruptions to our users,” he said.

READ MORE: Transit strike would target uniforms, overtime for maintenance workers

READ MORE: Possible transit strike looming in Vancouver as routes overburdened

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

Surrey RCMP not seeing ‘significant loss’ in ranks because of COVID-19

Surrey Mounties say they have a good tracking system to keep tabs on police officers experiencing an illness

Supreme Court upholds White Rock council decision on Lady Alexandra development

Planned 12-storey highrise on lower Johnston Road was stalled in 2018

‘Potentially life-threatening’ injuries in South Surrey crash

152 Street closed in both directions between Colebrook Road and 40 Avenue

No final high school game for Surrey all-stars; six scholarship winners named

COVID-19 forces cancellation of all-star games for boys and girls at Enver Creek gym April 3

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

UPDATE: 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC heart surgery patient rarely leaves home

James Jepson is especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Most Read