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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Surrey denturist goes mobile

Dr. Sarwar Sarwari, of True Fit Denture Centre, has had the van up and running for a month

White Rock Playhouse, Bell Centre lit up red in support of entertainment workers

Facilities across Canada participated in national Light Up Live movement on Sept. 22

New 10-bed substance use program opens in Surrey

It’s described as a ‘soft landing’ for people who are coming out of detox

UPDATED: Surrey RCMP make multiple arrests after reports of fight in Newton

Huge police response to reports of fight, possibly a gun, in the area of 82nd Avenue east of Scott Road

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read