Unifor members prepare picket signs at union headquarters in New Westminster on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. The union has said its workers will put buses and SeaBus behind picket lines starting Wednesday, Nov. 27. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

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

Strike has been ongoing since Nov. 1

The union representing bus drivers and maintenance workers in Metro Vancouver said they will walk off the job come Nov. 27.

The announcement came Wednesday morning in a labour dispute between the Coast Mountain Bus Company and Unifor that has run since Nov. 1.

Unifor said the full strike will run Wednesday to Friday next week, but that service will resume as before on Saturday. The action will affect bus and SeaBus service.

Western regional director Gavin McGarrigle said they felt TransLink had left them no options beyond going to a full walkout.

“In the past few days, it has become clear to us that TransLink has no intention of settling a fair contract,” McGarrigle said at a press conference at Unifor’s New Westminster headquarters.

At issue are wages and mandatory breaks. The Coast Mountain Bus Company has said it believes its offer is fair and exceeds compensation for other public sector workers in B.C.

However, McGarrigle said worker want wages more in line with what SkyTrain ones do, and a comparison to transit workers in the Greater Toronto Area.

In a statement, CMBC said it was “completely unacceptable” for riders to be dragged into the labour dispute.

“Coast Mountain Bus Company is addressing the union’s complaints about working conditions as well as providing generous wage increases beyond what’s in other public sector settlements in British Columbia,” McDaniel said.

“The union is willing to disrupt lives of commuters to get the wages it wants.”

Speaking at TransLink headquarters in New Westminster, spokesperson Ben Murphy said the companies were “incredibly disappointed” in Unifor’s actions.

Murphy said Coast Mountain was asking Unifor to come back to the table with “reasonable” wage demands.

“We have reached the point where there is $150 million gap in wages and that needs to be resolved,” Murphy said.

He reiterated CMBC’s point of view that the company hires from the Vancouver area, and their wage offers exceed others in the public sector, leading to “lineups out the door” when it hires bus operators.

Labour Minister Harry Bains indicated the province would not get involved in the dispute.

“This is a matter between the employer, Coast Mountain Bus Company, and the union,” Bain said. “They have successfully bargained numerous collective agreements together without any outside involvement. It’s our expectation that they will be able to do so again.”

READ MORE: Union to prepare for picket lines, announce new measures in transit strike escalation

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Valley Regional District office on Cheam Avenue in Chilliwack reopening with restrictions in place as of Oct. 16, 2020. (Paul Henderson/Chilliwack Progress file)
FVRD to reopen corporate office on a limited basis

Fraser Valley Regional District visitors will be screened and asked to maintain physical distancing

Over the last sixty years, temperatures have risen faster in Abbotsford than in Vancouver.
(Black Press file photo; Chart: Tyler Olsen)
The Fraser Valley has been warming at a quicker rate than Vancouver. Why?

Implications for agriculture and humans as data suggests region is warming at a rapid rate

Only one of four proposed stores have been recommended to be allowed to open in central Abbotsford.
City of Abbotsofrd map.
City staff recommend which four cannabis stores should get Abbotsford council’s OK

Plethora of applicants in central Abbotsford made location a key deciding fctor

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Most Read