Negotiations break down between Metro Vancouver bus drivers, employer as strike looms

Negotiations break down between Metro Vancouver bus drivers, employer as strike looms

Unifor members will be able to legally pursue job action as of midnight Friday

Negotiations between the union representing 5,000 bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers in Metro Vancouver have broke off with their employer, Coast Mountain Bus Company.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon in New Westminster, Unifor locals 111 and 2200 said they left the bargaining table after the employer would not budge on wages or working conditions after 29 days of talks.

“We’re prepared to be patient,” said Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle, warning that limited job action could continue for more than a year.

“It will slowly but surely ramp up until we reach a full work disruption.”

Plans could include reduced fare collection and go all the way up to an eventual full work stoppage.

“We know from statistics that congestion is getting worse and worse,” McGarrigle said, saying ridership has gone up 18 per cent since 2018, and an increasing number of passengers are needing help to physically board the bus.

“What’s happening is that they’re pulling into the bus loops, they’re trying to meet the schedule [but] there’s not enough time,” McGarrigle said.

“We’re talking two to three minutes to go to the washroom or to just have a break.”

Union members issued a 72-hour strike notice earlier this week and are scheduled to begin job action as of midnight Friday. Bus drivers are set to ditch their uniforms in favour of regular clothes and maintenance workers to refuse overtime, starting at 8 a.m.

At their Surrey headquarters, Coast Mountain Bus Company president Michael McDaniel said the offer on the table was reasonable, despite Unifor’s move to walk away.

“Maintenance trades would see a wage increases of more than 12 per cent over four years. Transit operators would see wage increases of nearly 10 per cent,” McDaniel said, adding the benefits package and working conditions have been improved, specifically targeting recovery time.

McGarrigle said he wanted wages brought in line with those in the Greater Toronto Area – something McDaniel said was not realistic.

“All wages follow competition in the market that you’re in,” he said. “We don’t recruit transit operators and mechanics from the Toronto region.”

If Friday’s job action goes ahead, McDaniel said, there will be disruptions.

“While the effects will vary across the region, we will do our best to communicate all those service disruptions to our users,” he said.

READ MORE: Transit strike would target uniforms, overtime for maintenance workers

READ MORE: Possible transit strike looming in Vancouver as routes overburdened

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother missing for four weeks

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged in Coquihalla crash showed ‘wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives’: Crown

Despite already having brake issues, Roy McCormack tackled the steepest hill on the infamous highway

Abbotsford International Airport. Black Press file photo.
Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down

Statistics Canada report describes a ‘devastating year’ for air travel

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Chilliwack’s Ryan Wugalter with his kids, three-year-old Mira and 15-month-old Solomon. Wugalter recently released his children’s album Super Giraffe. (Submitted)
Chilliwack father releases children’s album, songs about superhero giraffe and not eating magnets

Inspiration for Ryan Wugalter’s new album ‘Super Giraffe’ came from his two young kids

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read