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Tentative agreement reached to avoid SkyTrain shutdown

Last Updated Dec 10, 2019 at 9:12 am PST

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)
Summary

SkyTrain union workers and their employer, the BC Rapid Transit Company, have reached a tentative agreement

The deal, which still needs to be ratified by union members, means a three-day shutdown has been avoided

The SkyTrain strike would have seen service on the Expo, Millennium, and Evergreen lines impacted

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Last-minute negotiations have resulted in a tentative deal between SkyTrain union workers and their employer, the BC Rapid Transit Company.

This means service on the Expo, Millennium, and Evergreen lines will not be disrupted by a three-day shutdown.

“It’s been a very long night for myself and the rest of our crew behind me,” CUPE 7000 president Tony Rebelo said on Tuesday morning. “We are glad that we were able to come to an agreement.”

The tentative deal still needs to be ratified by union members, and Rebelo said details of the agreement would not be released for the time being.

“We’re going to go back upstairs and finish singing of the agreement, and we’re going to go get some well-deserved sleep,” he said, adding he felt good but tired after several hours of negotiations.

“There was just a lot of key issues at play, and we were able to get through them, it just took a little bit longer than we hoped for,” Rebelo said. He noted “most of the sticking points were dealt with.”

The union and TransLink anticipated service would be up and running sometime Tuesday morning, with the latter saying there would be about an hour delay in service. The transit authority had estimated the shutdown would have impacted thousands of people, explaining 150,000 people use the system every week day.

Wages, forced overtime, and staffing levels among others were among the key issues on the table.

“It has been a very long night,” Ben Murphy with TransLink said, adding talks ran for about 17 hours.

“We are very pleased with this outcome. This is a very good outcome for our customers, this is a good outcome for this region, and of course this is a very good outcome for BCRTC employees,” he said.

Murphy reinforced the message that customers would notice delays at the start of service, but that SkyTrain would be fully running.

“I think the good news is that the people of this region will be waking up this morning and breathing a collective sigh of relief, knowing that the Expo and Millennium lines would not be facing three days of shutdown,” he told reporters. “This is a very good result, and we are very pleased with the outcome.”

Listen: NEWS 1130 Morning Show Anchor Amanda Wawryk speaks with TransLink’s Ben Murphy after a deal was reached to avert a SkyTrain shutdown

The union representing the workers issued a 72-hour strike notice on Friday, which followed 40 days of bargaining with the BC Rapid Transit Company, including four days of mediation. About 900 SkyTrain workers were expected to walk off the job on Tuesday morning and not return until Friday at the same time if talks broke down.

“This is great news for our customers who depend on our services,” President of BC Rapid Transit Company Michel Ladrak said. “There will be some delays in the start of service on the Expo and Millennium Line this morning. I thank all of our customers and staff for their patience through this uncertain time.”

The threat of a SkyTrain shutdown came just days after a potential bus and SeaBus strike was averted in Metro Vancouver. Union bus and SeaBus workers ratified an agreement with Coast Mountain Bus Company last week after reaching a tentative agreement in what was also an eleventh hour deal at the end of November.

-With files from Espe Currie and Marcella Bernardo