Metro Vancouver transit strike: Disruptions to bus service could start mid-week, union says

While only SeaBus service is affected right now, bus service could be affected by the Metro Vancouver transit strike by mid-week.
While only SeaBus service is affected right now, bus service could be affected by the Metro Vancouver transit strike by mid-week. Global News

The Metro Vancouver transit strike continues Tuesday morning with no real end in sight.

At last update, no talks have been scheduled between the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) and Unifor, the union representing Vancouver bus operators, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers.

Transit strike impact set to ramp up
Transit strike impact set to ramp up

Six SeaBus sailings were cancelled on Monday, with maintenance workers refusing overtime.

The same six sailings are cancelled for Tuesday:

Lonsdale Quay

4:10 p.m.
6:20 p.m.
7:30 p.m.

Waterfront station

4:25 p.m.
6:35 p.m.
7:45 p.m.

An overtime ban for mechanics has made bus maintenance a challenge, which means bus disruptions could come mid-week, according to the union.

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On Tuesday, Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle told Global News an escalation in job action could further impact the entire transit system.

“If we were to ramp it up, one of [the] things we’ve talked about a lot is moving to an overtime ban for the transit operators. Right now, they’re working their full shifts, including overtime, but if we move to an overtime ban, that would probably take out another 10 to 15 per cent of the entire system,” he said.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver transit strike: Here’s how your commute may be affected

“That’s a significant step. We’re not doing it right now to give the public the chance to speak out and let the company know it’s time to get back to the table with a decent offer.”

McGarrigle said the union gave the public 24 hours notice for its first phase of job action and would do something similar if things were to escalate.

Premier John Horgan said the province won’t intervene in the impasse.

“I believe that collective bargaining should run its course, we have no plans to interfere in that, I’m hopeful that a resolution can be found quickly for the travelling public, but at this point there’s not a role for the public to play.”

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said Tueday that he wanted to see both sides get back to the bargaining table.

“Our 3,900 bus drivers are really good people,” he said.

“They have to contend with traffic congestion, crowded traffic and unfortunately a small number of people who get on the bus who cause trouble.

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“I hope we don’t penalize the very people that need the transit system the most.”

The union is looking for 15 per cent increases over four years. CMBC president Michael McDaniel has said that works out to $680 million over 10 years compared to CMBC’s offer of $71 million over 10 years, which he says balances transit expansion needs with meeting some of the workers’ demands.

The Mayors’ Council said Monday that it’s disappointing the two sides won’t even meet.

B.C. Premier John Horgan told a Vancouver news conference that “collective bargaining should run its course” and his government has “no plans to interfere” in the impasse.

— With files from Emily Lazatin, Sean Boynton and The Canadian Press