SkyTrain workers to return to bargaining table after voting for strike action

A SkyTrain arrives at a downtown Vancouver station in an undated file photo. Simon Little / Global News

As Metro Vancouver braces for a full-on bus and SeaBus strike, a potential SkyTrain shutdown could be averted altogether as soon as this weekend.

The union representing Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain workers said Friday it will meet with the BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) through the weekend to try and reach an agreement on a new contract.

The news comes a day after CUPE 7000 members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate, which the union suggests got the BCRTC’s attention.

Click to play video: '900 SkyTrain employees vote in favour of strike mandate' 900 SkyTrain employees vote in favour of strike mandate
900 SkyTrain employees vote in favour of strike mandate – Nov 21, 2019

“The company has informed us that they’re willing to take another look at substantial issues in advance of mediation, so we have agreed to meet with them,” CUPE 7000 president Tony Rebelo said in a statement.

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Rebelo added the union will not be commenting further until a deal is reached or talks break down.

BCRTC president Michel Ladrak called the return to the table “a very positive step forward.”

“We look forward to finding solutions to the outstanding issues which remain between the parties,” he said in a statement.

READ MORE: SkyTrain union opens door to possible job action amid stalled contract talks

Eight days of mediated talks had already been scheduled to begin on Nov. 28 when the union voted 96.8 per cent in favour of strike action Thursday.

The strike vote came with an assurance that no job action would occur unless a deal couldn’t be reached by the final day of mediation on Dec. 19.

Metro Vancouver’s 900 SkyTrain attendants and maintenance workers have been without a contract since the end of August, and are fighting for better wages, sick time and staffing levels.

READ MORE: Transit strike day 22: Commuters prepare for the worst with shutdown looming

The return to bargaining marks a glimmer of hope for the TransLink system, which has been facing increasing job action from the region’s bus and SeaBus workers since Nov. 1.

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The union representing those workers has announced a three-day system shutdown starting next Wednesday, which will see all 5,000 drivers and maintenance workers walk off the job.

Canada Line, West Coast Express and the West Vancouver Blue Bus systems are not affected by any of the transit worker job disputes.

Click to play video: 'Bargaining with SkyTrain workers break down' Bargaining with SkyTrain workers break down
Bargaining with SkyTrain workers break down – Nov 14, 2019

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