Transit strike averted as Canada Line workers reach tentative deal with union

Canada Line station in Vancouver, B.C. Keith Levit/CP

A potential shutdown of the Canada Line was narrowly averted Tuesday after workers reached a tentative deal with their employer.

The deal came hours after a Monday-afternoon strike deadline came and went, with the union deciding to hold off on job action as negotiations continued.

The BC Government & Service Employees Union said it held 40 bargaining sessions with Canada Line operator Protrans BC before a deal was finally reached, including 40 straight hours of negotiations since Sunday morning.

“Our members’ goal has always been to get a fair contract at the bargaining table,” BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said in a statement.

“Our members showed incredible solidarity under extremely challenging circumstances and they got it done.”

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Click to play video: 'No strike yet as negotiations continue in Canada Line labour dispute'
No strike yet as negotiations continue in Canada Line labour dispute

Details of the agreement reached for the 182 Canada Line workers won’t be released until members review and vote to ratify the terms.

SNC-Lavalin, which owns Protrans BC, said in a statement it was “optimistic” the agreement is fair for both parties.

“Canada Line passengers can expect services to continue as usual now that a strike has been averted,” the company said.

The BCGEU issued 72-hour strike notice on Friday. Talks dragged on through the weekend and overnight Sunday to stop the potential job action.

Click to play video: 'Canada Line workers in legal strike position as talks continue'
Canada Line workers in legal strike position as talks continue

Negotiations stalled early Monday and the union said it intended to begin striking around 4 p.m. that day.

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Talks resumed in the late afternoon and the job action was delayed as an act of good faith, according to the BCGEU, to allow negotiations to continue.

Workers had been without a contract since December 2019. The concerns from the workers included wage parity and sick leave issues.

A strike and shutdown of the Canada Line would have come more than a year after Metro Vancouver’s other two SkyTrain lines and bus systems were shut down for weeks over a separate contract dispute.

– With files from Amy Judd

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