Metro Vancouver transit dispute sees more SeaBus sailings cancelled on Remembrance Day

A SeaBus is pictured as it crosses Vancouver harbour with downtown Vancouver pictured in the background Wednesday, Oct., 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

After a quiet weekend with no service disruptions due to the Metro Vancouver transit worker dispute, Remembrance Day will see more than a dozen SeaBus sailings cancelled.

TransLink says 14 sailings will be cancelled throughout the holiday Monday thanks to to job action by maintenance workers who are refusing to work overtime.

The overtime ban, coupled with a uniform ban for bus and SeaBus operators, will enter its 11th day Monday as the union representing the 5,000 workers and Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) struggle to negotiate a new contract.

The following sailings will be cancelled Monday:

Lonsdale Quay

  • 10:02 a.m.
  • 10:47 a.m.
  • 6:47 p.m.
  • 7:17 p.m.
  • 7:47 p.m.
  • 8:17 p.m.
  • 8:47 p.m.

Waterfront Station

  • 10:16 a.m.
  • 11:01 a.m.
  • 7:01 p.m.
  • 7:31 p.m.
  • 8:01 p.m.
  • 8:31 p.m.
  • 9:01 p.m.

TransLink has not yet said whether any bus routes will see disruptions, which CMBC president Michael McDaniel said on Saturday are a lot harder to predict ahead of time.

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McDaniel has explained that every SeaBus trip must have an engineer aboard, and the company does not have enough engineers to operate all three SeaBuses without workers on overtime.

However, Saturday and Sunday did not see any cancellations due to reduced weekend service that McDaniel had predicted could stretch into Monday.

Click to play video: 'Universities told to prepare for further transit disruptions amid job action'
Universities told to prepare for further transit disruptions amid job action

Despite the sailing interruptions, TransLink is continuing to offer its services to transit users for Remembrance Day, including free transit to veterans who show their membership cards.

Free service is also being provided on Monday to uniformed members of the armed forces, police and fire departments, Coast Guard, and BC Ambulance.

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One accessible fare gate will be kept open at all SeaBus, SkyTrain and Canada Line stations between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to allow for that free access.

SkyTrain is not affected by the contract dispute.

Bracing for future job action

But the union representing the workers has warned that job action could increase soon after regular weekday service resumes Tuesday.

Unifor western regional director Gavin McGarrigle said the next step will likely be an overtime ban for bus operators, which he predicted would immediately eliminate 10 to 15 per cent of service across the region. Any escalation would come with 24 to 48 hours notice, he said.

McGarrigle added the union will escalate to a full work stoppage if CMBC doesn’t “have a complete system reset in how they’re approaching these negotiations.”

Click to play video: 'More service affected by overtime ban as transit strike continues'
More service affected by overtime ban as transit strike continues

Workers have been without a contract since the end of March, and the union says its members are increasingly stretched amid surging ridership on the Metro Vancouver transit system.

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The union alleges CMBC’s latest offer does not adequately address concerns over those working conditions, including guaranteeing minimum break times.

On Saturday, McDaniel said the company has invited the union back to the negotiating table to discuss solutions to address working conditions, but their invitation was declined.

Click to play video: 'Transit strike day 9'
Transit strike day 9

McGarrigle hasn’t confirmed whether he or other union representatives have received that invitation.

CMBC says meeting the union’s wage demands would cost the company $680 million across 10 years. The company has counter-offered $71 million across 10 years, calling it “fiscally responsible.”

McDaniel has said if that $600-million gap is given to the workers, it would jeopardize planned and future transit expansion projects like increased bus service, the Broadway subway and the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension.

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Post-secondary students, faculty and staff have been warned to start planning “alternative transportation” like carpools in anticipation of further service disruptions or a full-on strike.

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