On Thursday afternoon, the union representing TransLink’s bus drivers and SeaBus workers announced that negotiation talks with Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) had broken off.
Starting on Friday at 8 am, nearly 5,000 employees will begin the first step of strike action, which includes a uniform ban by transit operators and an overtime ban by maintenance workers.
The uniform ban entails that bus drivers on all routes will stop wearing the CMBC uniform, with the goal of increasing conversations and awareness of the ongoing negotiations with passengers.
The overtime ban means that CMBC technicians and skilled trades workers will refuse overtime shifts, which according to Unifor, will “gradually increase pressure on the system.”
If an agreement between the union and CMBC were not to be met, the overtime ban could “quickly lead to fewer buses on the road and could also affect Seabus service,” due to a buildup in repairs and maintenance jobs.
- See also:
According to a statement from Unifor, the CMBC failed to make a significant offer prior to calling off strike negotiations.
“We have not had a serious offer from the company since we served strike notice,” says Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
Michael McDaniel, President of Coast Mountain Bus Company, however, said that prior to breaking negotiations, the CMBC had tabled an offer that included “better wages and benefits, and addresses working conditions.”
He even stated in an email that the package “would be greater than most other public sector settlements in BC.”
And, at 6:30 am on November 1, McDaniel released another statement urging Unifor to return to the negotiating table:
“Coast Mountain Bus Company is urging the union to return to the bargaining table and avoid today’s job action, which will impact transit users. Our negotiators have repeatedly asked union representatives to participate in third-party mediation to help resolve the current situation, but they have refused to take part. We will make every effort to communicate any service disruptions to our customers as they occur. Coast Mountain Bus Company has put forward a fair and reasonable offer which boosts wages, benefits, and working conditions, while recognizing the important work of our employees.”
Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director, denied yesterday that the CMBC had made any movement in terms of negotiations.
“Transit workers are very disheartened and Metro Vancouver’s passengers should be disappointed in CMBC’s unwillingness to find a solution,” says McGarrigle.
At this point in time, there are no further negotiation talks scheduled.