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Transit strike shifts into high gear as Metro Vancouver bus drivers begin to refuse overtime

Last Updated Nov 15, 2019 at 1:40 pm PST

FILE - A TransLink trolley bus, operated by Coast Mountain Bus Company, in downtown Vancouver on a rainy November morning in 2019. (Monika Gul, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Friday is day 15 in Metro Vancouver's transit strike and bus drivers will begin refusing overtime

Unifor claims 10 to 15 per cent of bus routes will be impacted

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you rely on the bus to get to and from work or school, get ready for a longer commute. Unionized bus drivers in Metro Vancouver are shifting their job action into high gear, refusing overtime for the first time on Friday.

It’s not clear which routes will be impacted, as it will depend on where and when a bus driver calls it a day, but Unifor claims 10 to 15 per cent of routes will be impacted, and the impacts will be felt system-wide.

Friday is day 15 of the job action, which has seen bus drivers out of uniform and maintenance workers refusing overtime. That has been felt, with SeaBus cancellations almost every day since the strike began. Ten sailings have been cancelled for Nov. 15.

Friday morning a downed trolley line at Robson and Seymour, which came down on Thursday and trapped a woman and child in a car, had yet to be completely cleared, reportedly because of the maintenance overtime ban.

One man waiting for a bus downtown told NEWS 1130 he was starting to be annoyed by delays.

“Today was the first day I actually noticed something,” he said. “I normally wait about ten minutes for the bus, I waited about a half hour for the bus this morning. I’m a little bit late for work.”

TransLink’s website listed hundreds of alerts for buses on Friday morning, but it was unclear which were directly caused by the transit strike.

The job action is ramping up after talks between Unifor and CMBC broke down on Thursday, with the two sides unable to reach an agreement on wage increases, benefits and working conditions.

The union says bus drivers will refuse overtime again next Monday, Wednesday and Friday if a resolution is not reached.