Transit union warns of escalated strike action this week

Nov 12 2019, 7:46 pm

As Metro Vancouver transit workers enter their 12th day of job action, the union representing those workers said it is prepared for further escalation if an agreement cannot be reached this week.

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, union lead negotiator Gavin McGarrigle said he spoke with Coast Mountain Bus Company’s chief negotiator and told him that the union is prepared to return to the bargaining table this Wednesday, “to discuss all outstanding issues in this dispute.”

If the company is “serious” about achieving a resolution to this dispute, he added, “bargaining can be wrapped up in a matter of hours.”

However, “if the company is not serious and continues to avoid a fair collective agreement on all issues, we will escalate job action, beginning this Friday.”

To prepare for this possibility, McGarrigle said all bus drivers “are now being instructed to stop accepting overtime for all shifts that occur this Friday – if a fair agreement is not reached before then.”

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

McGarrigle said the union is giving notice of the potential job action today because “we know we serve the public, and we want to make sure we give notice of this disruption.”

Transit riders, he continued, “have a critical role to play” in pressuring the company into avoiding a system-wide disruption.

“Our members are determined to have their issues addressed,” said McGarrigle. “We know that bargaining requires compromise, but we also know that these issues are not going away, unless they are addressed in this round of bargaining.”

At this point, he said, “the ball is now in the company’s court – come back to the bargaining table as you say you want to, address the issues, and bargain a fair agreement for your workers, so that we can avoid an escalation of the job action this Friday.”

Coast Mountain Bus Company responds

In response, Coast Mountain Bus Company President Michael McDaniel said he “welcomes” the union’s return to the bargaining table.

“We are encouraged by this development and look forward to reaching an agreement which works for all parties involved,” he said. “All of us are committed to providing quality transit services to our customers every day of the year.”

McDaniel said he’s “optimistic that we can find common ground to ensure this can continue.”

At this point, however, “given the formal bargaining process is set to resume, we will not be providing further comment at this time.”

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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