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.

Just Posted

Hallmark holiday flicks highlight Langley

How many Langley locations can be spotted this year in Christmas movies-of-the-week?

Christmas comes alive in Aldergrove this Saturday

26th annual Elks Kid’s Christmas party and Christmas Light-Up Parade in motion

Cloverdale hospital could take pressure off Langley Memorial

Fraser Health says about 20 per cent of patients at LMH are from Surrey

Tribute breakfast a Krause Berry Farm’s Christmas tradition

Happy husbands and friends flip flapjacks every year together for a cause

IIO report just small part of answers Carson’s family hopes for

Carson Crimeni’s grandfather says he’s still waiting to hear about criminal charges

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

Prolific offender nabbed at Surrey SkyTrain after police say he skipped paying fare

Officers arrested Reginald Simon at Scott Road SkyTrain after discovering he had 11 outstanding warrants

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Most Read