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Canada Line workers continue to negotiate as strike deadline looms

Last Updated Jan 31, 2021 at 4:38 pm PDT

A Canada Line Train arrives at the Marine Drive station in Vancouver, B.C. (Image Credit: CityNews)
Summary

The union's president says wage parity, sick time have been the major sticking points in talks so far

A strike would start at 4 p.m. Monday, the union says workers will continue talks as long as they are productive

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — With a strike deadline looming, Canada Line workers are back at the table Sunday trying to negotiate a deal without disrupting service, according to the union.

A strike is set to start Monday at 4 p.m. The roughly 180 workers on the Canada Line have been bargaining since February 2020, issuing strike notice after mediation stalled Friday. 

However, the union’s president says workers will remain at the table as long as talks are productive, and she remains hopeful an agreement will be struck in time to avert job action.

“We’ve always been at the table, we want to get a negotiated settlement. This collective agreement is about fairness. Our members on the Canada Line, working for ProTrans do exactly the same job as the workers on the TransLink SkyTrain system,” says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith.

“We’re looking for wage parity. Another point is sick time. The pandemic has really shown that working people need sick time that allows them to stay home and recover fully. So they’re not putting themselves, their co-workers, and in the case of the Canada Line, the travelling public at risk of infection.”

Smith says, on average, members make about three per cent less than SkyTrain workers.

Canada Line workers have been without a contract since late-2019.

“The strike vote was taken in November. It was a very strong strike mandate, almost 98 per cent in favour. So, our members are positioned to do whatever they need to do to get this agreement,” Smith says.

“Ideally, of course, our focus right now is at the table. The decision to stop work is never taken lightly.”

Although Smith could not say whether a strike would mean a complete halt to service, she says riders can expect disruption.

“What I can say is that the Canada Line runs because our members operate it. So, if there is a work stoppage, there will be impact.”

Canada Line employees are represented by a different union than workers on the Expo and Millennium Lines, so a strike would not impact those lines.