Strike action is officially underway among Metro Vancouver bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers following a break down in negotiations between the union representing 5,000 members and its employer.
Starting Friday at 8 a.m., SeaBus and bus operators will replace their Coast Mountain Bus Company uniforms with regular attire. Technicians and maintenance workers will begin refusing overtime.
The strike action comes after the Unifor announced that contract talks with Coast Mountain broke off Thursday afternoon. A 72-hour strike notice, supported by 99 per cent of Unifor local 111 and 2200 members, was issued earlier this week.
“The system has normalized overtime, so without it, the turnaround for repairs and other maintenance will build up quickly,” Unifor Local 2200 president Mike Smith said Thursday. “We trust that TransLink will not put unsafe vehicles back on the road, so it is a question of fewer vehicles available in the system.”
In a last-ditch effort to halt job action Friday, Coast Mountain Bus Company president Mike McDaniel released a statement urging the union to come back to the bargaining table.
“Our negotiators have repeatedly asked union representatives to participate in third-party mediation to help resolve the current situation, but they have refused to take part,” McDaniel said.
He added that the union’s demands would amount to more than half-a-billion dollars over 10 years, which include wage increases and improved working conditions, specifically recovery time for bus drivers between routes.
Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director, said that job action will escalate in the coming weeks.