Transit negotiations in Vancouver have broken off: union

Oct 31 2019, 1:26 pm

After announcing that transit workers in Vancouver would begin striking at 8 am on Friday November 1 if no agreement was reached, the union representing those workers said talks have broken off as of Thursday afternoon.

Prior to this latest development, the union announced that should a tentative agreement not be reached by Friday’s deadline, strike action will begin with a uniform ban by transit operators and an overtime ban by maintenance workers.

“Our number one goal is a fair contract that ensures our members are working under safe and reasonable conditions so they can best serve the public,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “To minimize the disruption to the public while still ramping up pressure on the employer, we have chosen a measured level of strike action in the first phase.”

Beginning Friday, transit operators on all routes will not be wearing the Coast Mountain Bus Company uniform. CMBC’s technicians and skilled trades workers will be refusing overtime shifts.

“It is a strange experience to see an operator out of uniform, and we hope that starts conversations with the passengers about our struggle with this employer to get a fair deal,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director and lead negotiator during the talks.

The overtime ban for maintenance workers is meant to gradually increase pressure on the system and will quickly lead to fewer busses on the roads and could also affect Seabus service, the union said.

“The system has normalized overtime, so without it, the turnaround for repairs and other maintenance will build up quickly,” said Mike Smith, President of Unifor Local 2200 representing maintenance and Seabus workers. “We trust that TransLink will not put unsafe vehicles back on the road, so it is a question of fewer vehicles available in the system.”