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SkyTrain workers union, TransLink staying silent amid mediated contract talks

SkyTrain light rapid transit cars on a section of elevated track between the Stadium-Chinatown and Main Street-Science World stations, Vancouver, B.C., May 1, 2014.
SkyTrain light rapid transit cars on a section of elevated track between the Stadium-Chinatown and Main Street-Science World stations, Vancouver, B.C., May 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Bayne Stanley

While a bus and SeaBus stoppage was narrowly averted this week, Metro Vancouver is crossing its fingers that a deal can also be reached between SkyTrain workers and their employer.

Mediated talks began Thursday between BC Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC) and the union representing 900 SkyTrain attendants and maintenance workers. The talks continued Friday and are set to resume on Dec. 2.

The union has already voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike mandate, meaning job action could begin quickly if no deal is reached by the scheduled end of mediation on Dec. 19.

READ MORE: SkyTrain workers to return to bargaining table after voting for strike action

The two sides returned to the bargaining table last weekend in a bid to reach an agreement, but nothing came out of those discussions.

TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy declined to give details on the process, citing an agreed-upon media blackout.

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“Given bargaining and mediation processes remain ongoing, we won’t be providing comment on discussions between the two parties,” he said in an email Friday.

A spokesperson for CUPE, whose 7000 chapter represents the workers, also declined to comment but promised to provide updates “as soon as the situation changes.”

900 SkyTrain employees vote in favour of strike mandate
900 SkyTrain employees vote in favour of strike mandate

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.

The union has not said what kind of job action would occur if the two sides did not reach a deal, but representatives have not ruled out a full work stoppage.

The mediated talks began a day after a tentative agreement was reached between Coast Mountain Bus Company and the union representing Metro Vancouver’s bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers.

READ MORE: Last-minute deal averts Metro Vancouver transit system shutdown

The agreement averted a planned three-day system shutdown just moments before it was set to begin early Wednesday morning.

The union had been escalating job action since Nov. 1, with maintenance workers and bus operators refusing overtime. The actions resulted in disruptions to bus routes and daily SeaBus cancellations.

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

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