Transit workers' union to announce "next phase" of job action on Wednesday

Nov 19 2019, 2:27 pm

Saying it was prompted to do after “a failure by the employer to make new offers at the bargaining table,” the union representing Metro Vancouver’s transit workers said on Tuesday that it now plans to announce its next phase of job action on Wednesday morning.

And while the union didn’t divulge any specific details of exactly what that next phase would entail, they noted that immediately following the announcement, dozens of union members “will receive strike training.”

The announcement is scheduled to be made by Gavin McGarrigle, Western Regional Director of Unifor — the union representing the workers.

The move comes after McGarrigle warned last week that if no deal was reached, bus drivers would be “instructed to stop accepting overtime” on select days, beginning this past Friday.

From there, he continued, “we will also consider additional days next week and in the weeks to come where drivers will join with maintenance workers on the overtime ban.”

Ultimately, service disruptions “will continue to escalate until a full strike will occur,” he added.

In a statement last week, the union said TransLink’s refusal to deal with the key bargaining issues has resulted in the mutual agreement to discontinue contract talks that began again this morning, and a continuation of service disruption for passengers.

“TransLink seems content to play games while tens of thousands of transit passengers’ lives are impacted daily,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Transit workers want to sign a new contract, but TransLink isn’t interested in anything remotely fair.”

“TransLink simply doesn’t treat its workers fairly,” said McGarrigle. “They divide their workers into separate companies and tell skilled trades not to compare their wages with each other.”

In the employer’s mind, said McGarrigle, “a comparison to Toronto’s transit system is fine for executive wages, but it’s somehow offside for transit operators.”

Last Thursday, Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) President Michael McDaniel said the company is disappointed an agreement couldn’t be reached at the bargaining table.

According to CMBC, the “enhanced proposal” includes guaranteed recovery time, as well as previously offered wage increases which are more generous than other public sector settlements in British Columbia.

This proposal directly focuses on working conditions,” he furthered. “This is the exact issue the union has asked us to improve.”

Wage demands “beyond what have already been offered,” he said, “will come at the expense of services for customers.” As such, McDaniel said a “realistic” deal is needed.

CMBC said their latest offer includes new measures to address working conditions, something it says the union has made a top priority.

As of Tuesday morning, 78 bus trips along 34 different routes had been cancelled due to the ongoing transit strike.