A bus is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Friday, November, 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A bus is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Friday, November, 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Union, Coast Mountain head back to the bargaining table as bus walkout looms

Bus drivers, maintenance workers say they’ll walk off the job Wednesday

Unifor has headed back to the bargaining table with the Coast Mountain Bus Company on Tuesday in hopes of striking a deal before bus service is set to shut down.

Western regional director Gavin McGarrigle said Monday they are prepared to bargain “around the clock” to reach a deal.

Meanwhile, TransLink’s CEO said 100,000 people who have no alternative to taking the bus to work in Metro Vancouver could be stranded if the strike goes ahead this week.

Kevin Desmond called on both sides in the ongoing labour dispute to return to the table to avert the “unnecessary” job action.

Speaking at the Waterfront SkyTrain Station in Vancouver Monday, Desmond said bargaining would only work if both sides came back to the table “without any preconditions.”

Unifor, which represents 5,000 bus drivers and skilled trades people working for Coast Mountain, has been engaging in job action since Nov. 1. Up till now, it’s consisted of bus drivers ditching uniforms and maintenance workers and drivers refusing overtime.

The union announced last week that if the dispute was not resolved, its members would walk off the job Wednesday and buses would not run for three days.

Desmond said 160,000 people take the bus to work every day, and 100,000 of them don’t have a driver’s licence or access to a car. In total, 350,000 take the bus every day.

“I urge the union not to punish the transit users of this region. There is still time to end this,” Desmond said.

According to Coast Mountain, which operates buses in TransLink’s system, Unifor has refused four calls for mediation.

Desmond did not call on government to intervene.

“I happen to believe in collective bargaining. The workers have a right to collectively bargain with management,” he said, noting that unions and employees under TransLink have reached many deals in the past.

At the heart of the conflict is a $150-million gap in wages between CMBC’s offer and Unifor’s demands. The company said it is offering a 12.2-per-cent raise to skilled trades people and a 9.6-per-cent raise for bus drivers, both over four years.

Unifor has asked repeatedly why CMBC does not take into account wages for Toronto transit employees when making its offers to unionized workers.

Speaking Monday, Desmond said skilled tradespeople and bus drivers are sourced locally, while transit executives are come from “very small and competitive base” around the world.

He said TransLink has been working with alternate service providers, but “you can’t replace a bus system that transports 350,000 people every day.”

Those providers include Mobi, a bike-sharing partner, carpooling services such as gobyRIDE and Liftango, and car-sharing companies like Evo and Car2Go.

SkyTrain, the Canada Line, the West Coast Express and Handy Dart are not affected, though Desmond warned they could be busier than usual.

He said SkyTrain will run extra trains and have additional staff on hand to deal with the influx.

READ MORE: SFU student starts fundraiser to hire charter bus as transit shutdown looms

READ MORE: $150M sticking point: Coast Mountain, Unifor fight over wage gap as transit lockout looms

READ MORE: What happens if Metro Vancouver bus drivers start a ‘good work’ strike?


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley Mustangs high jumper Aiden Grout, seen here in McLeod Athletic Park in Langley in 2019, has just qualified for several top international competitions, including the Olympic trials. (Photo courtesy Vid Wadhwani)
VIDEO: With one jump, Langley Mustangs high jumper Aiden Grout has qualified for three international competitions

Maple Ridge resident records new personal best at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley

Maple Ridge’s Eileen Robinson celebrated international Trails Day by hitting the Trans-Canada Trail in her hometown. It’s marked on the first Saturday of June, and encourages people to get out and use and enjoy their local trails, which both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have many. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Celebrating Trails Day by getting outdoors

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Shail Wolf admires the ancient tree the protesters have dubbed the grandmother. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
OUR VIEWS: Old-growth can kicked down the road

Latest deferral avoids a difficult conversation about how, when to stop logging our oldest forests

Maple Ridge brothers Paul and Johnnie Walker hit the trails at Rolley Lake, just across the border into Mission. Johnnie did the modelling both with the downed tree and at the waterfalls.(Special to The News)
SHARE: Discovering fun on Rolley trails

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read