Unifor, the labour union that represents more than 5,000 TransLink bus and SeaBus workers, will be conducting a strike vote today.
The organization announced last week that its negotiations with Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), the TransLink subsidiary that operates and maintains the region’s bus and SeaBus ferry services, broke off after months of discussions.
“The strike vote takes place after months of negotiations with Coast Mountain,” says Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director in a statement. “This is an opportunity for our members to voice their concerns and vote ahead of the resumption of negotiations with the company.”
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The union also explains that its members have been working without a contract since March 31 and claim that CMBC has not satisfied their key issues on wages, benefits, and working conditions.
If the majority of Unifor members vote in favour, a strike mandate would be in effect for the next 90 days. Then, if required, the union would provide a 72-hour notice of strike action.
SkyTrain and West Coast Express employees are unaffected.
Understaffing and difficulty keeping up with ridership demand
McGarrigle also says that TransLink’s recent accolade of North America’s best public transit system was the result of the efforts of frontline staff who now deserve greater compensation and benefits.
“TransLink won this award in part because of the on-time service of our members, but what the company isn’t recognizing is that level of service was achieved due to lack of proper breaks and recovery time between trips,” said McGarrigle in a statement.
“Coast Mountain is also failing to address a serious understaffing issue, with overcrowded bus trips increasing 36% between 2016 and 2018.”
TransLink officials stated earlier this year that they have been struggling to keep up with ridership demand, despite the introduction of new services and significant additional service hours.
Buoyed by a strong economy, changing commuter patterns, densification, soaring fuel costs, and service improvements, the region’s transit ridership increased by 18% in the period between 2016 and 2018.
-with files from Kenneth Chan