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Vancouver transit dispute ramps up, one week into job action

Last Updated Nov 8, 2019 at 5:06 pm PST

Summary

16 SeaBus sailings have been cancelled Friday as the transit strike closes its first week

Working conditions, wages and benefits have been the main sticking points in negotiations

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It could be another slow travel day for commuters who use the SeaBus. TransLink has cancelled a total of 16 sailings on Friday, four of them in the morning, the rest in the afternoon and evening.

Those waiting at Lonsdale Quay Terminal on Friday morning were upset to see the half hour waits on the countdown clock.

Bus routes started to see impacts on Thursday and Friday, with delays and cancellations on multiple routes. 25 routes say a reduction in frequency during the morning rush on Friday, most of them high-frequency routes.

TransLink says the routes impacted are: the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 25, 32, 33, 41, 43, 84, 152, 156, 183, 188, 189, 403, 410, 430, 555, and 601.

Job action by Metro Vancouver transit workers has entered day eight, with no end in sight. On Thursday, a statement from Coast Mountain Bus Company President Michael McDaniel said CMBC has “formally asked the union to come back to the bargaining table to discuss working conditions for bus operators, but they have once again refused.”

Talks between Unifor and CMBC, which operates Metro Vancouver transit services on behalf of TransLink, broke off last week, leading to the job action by roughly 5,000 Unifor transit drivers, SeaBus operators, and mechanics.

Working conditions, wages and benefits have been the main sticking points in negotiations. The two sides have not been at the table since talks broke down.

More than 60 SeaBus sailings have been cancelled since the job action began last Friday, and the impacts to bus routes are starting to be felt

The last time Vancouver saw a deadlock like this was during the 2001 transit strike, which dragged on for months.

Buzz Hargrove was the union head during that dispute and says while it took a long time for labour relations to heal, the relationship with the public survived.

“We were really concerned about that, but interestingly enough we kept public opinion on our side throughout almost the full four months of the dispute,” he says.

But some damage from that deadlock lingered.

“It took a long while to get the relationship back, as a matter of fact the company got rid of a couple of their top negotiators,” he says. “The organization of city council, whoever was in charge, realized that these people hadn’t done the work that they should have but it took them a long while to get there.”

There is no word yet on when talks will resume.