vancouver transit strike

Vancouver braces for hurt as transit strike grips city

The transit strike in Vancouver will mean morning commutes are going to be painfully difficult for those without a car next week, because a three-day system-wide work stoppage beginning next Wednesday means Bus and SeaBus service will come to a complete halt. 

If a fair deal is not achieved between TransLink’s Coast Mountain Bus Company and Unifor by then, transit workers will walk the picket lines and remain on strike from November 27 to 29. 

Workers will return to their full shifts on November 30 and continue providing service, according to a Unifor press release. 

The statement says there are currently no talks scheduled between CMBC and Unifor.

"Transit workers have been more than patient with TransLink but continued disrespect for our members has left them little choice but to escalate job action," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

"We had hoped that overtime bans would demonstrate how essential transit workers are to the province’s most populous region, but TransLink has failed to offer a contract that matches the contribution of our members."

The strike comes as the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement on the topic of compensation.

According to CTV News, Unifor is fighting for a wage comparable to Toronto bus drivers and SkyTrain maintenance workers, which equals about $3 more per hour than what they're currently earning. 

Job action first began on November 1 when bus drivers stopped wearing uniforms and maintenance workers refused to work overtime.

Bus drivers have also stopped working overtime on certain days which has resulted in several SeaBus sailing cancellations as well as bus service cancellations.

TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy told CTV News the strike is unnecessary and will have "a devastating impact on this region."

He said adding that while TransLink is doing everything in their power to counteract the effects of the shutdown, there really isn't much they can do.

"We condemn this action by the union, and we urge them to return to the bargaining table with more reasonable wage demands," he told CTV.

The company is offering a of a 9.6 per cent wage increase for drivers and a 12 per cent increase for tradespeople, but the union says it's simply not enough.

Meanwhile, Unifor is encouraging transit passengers to stand up for workers at a rally scheduled for 1 p.m. on November 28 at the TransLink offices, where a TransLink Mayors’ Council meeting will also be taking place. 

"TransLink’s poor treatment of workers is having an impact on the broader commuting public. Passengers can help end this dispute by increasing the pressure on TransLink to get back to the bargaining table with a new mandate," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director and lead negotiator during the talks. 

"Transit workers and mayors both support expansion, but to accomplish a system expansion that doesn’t leave workers behind, the mayors need reign in TransLink and restore accountability to the system."

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