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Union warns drivers of proposed Coast Mountain Bus Company staffing cuts due to pandemic

FILE: A TransLink bus in downtown Vancouver. (CityNews Vancouver)

Union representing bus drivers warning workers of possible layoffs that could see workforce cuts of 30-70 %

Unifor says Coast Mountain Bus Company approached the union to propose discussion on managing proposed layoffs

The warning of job cuts comes after TransLink warned of massive cutbacks if it can't make up for lost revenue

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Bus drivers and other transit workers are bracing for a possible shock this week.

A letter from the union has been circulated to members, warning them of proposed massive layoffs.

“We write to advise our members that late this week, Coast Mountain Bus Company formally approached the Union to propose discussion on managing these proposed layoffs,” Unifor 111’s letter reads. “We have been advised that layoffs could be anywhere from 30% to 70% of the workforce and this could affect more than a thousand members.”

The letter says TransLink’s threats to cut staffing levels is an “irresponsible move,” adding it will do more harm than good amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As you know, tens of thousands of essential services workers rely on transit to get to work,” the letter reads. “Cutting transit service would make life even more difficult for working COVID-19 heroes, and ultimately, the people they have been dutifully serving.”

The union adds staffing cuts would also “disproportionately harm” lower wage essential workers, like retail and cleaning workers.

The warning of job cuts comes after TransLink warned of massive cutbacks if it can’t make up for a $75-million monthly shortfall that it has been coping with amid the health crisis.

The transit authority announced on Tuesday it was asking for relief from both the provincial and federal governments to help offset losses due to a decrease in ridership, which has been driven by the spread of the coronavirus.

Without emergency funding, TransLink warned transit users would see “unprecedented cuts” to services.

Last week, sources told NEWS 1130 leadership was concerned about how long TransLink would be able to continue to offer the same level of service on major routes.

NEWS 1130 has reached out to both Unifor and TransLink for comment.