After a week of the Lower Mainland transit dispute, tensions between the union and management appear to be escalating.
Unifor's chief negotiator, Gavin McGarrigle, accused Coast Mountain Bus Company of issuing "wild figures" about workers' requests at the bargaining table.
In an interview with CKNW talk-show host Simi Sara, he said the company has said that its four-year offer on the table is worth $71 million.
Yet according to McGarrigle, it's telling the public that the union's demands would run up to more than a half-a-billion dollars. That's because these costs been spread out over 10 years, even though the contract won't be anywhere near that long.
In addition, McGarrigle said that about half of the 150 spare buses that Coast Mountain claims to have in its fleet "are tied up in overhaul".
"I've got sheets in front of me that are showing about 41, 42 pieces of work out of the Vancouver depot have been cancelled or moved," McGarrigle told Sara. "I checked their social media and I haven't seen them talking about that."
The union negotiator said mentioned four specific routes—numbers 22, 25, 32, and 41—that have been affected by the dispute.
"I think the key thing is they're trying to shrug it off as if this not going to be any impact," he said. "As we've been saying all along, this is going to hit and It's going to get worse."
Meanwhile, TransLink says that "due to union job action", it's expecting another 16 SeaBus sailings to be cancelled on Friday (November 8).
And the president and CEO of its wholly owned bus company, Mike McDaniel accused the union of making no attempt to find common ground in response to an offer of 12.2 percent over four years for skilled trades workers and 9.6 percent over four years for transit operators.
“We’re ready to talk at the bargaining table but we can’t negotiate with ourselves," McDaniel said. "We need the union to return to the bargaining table. Union representatives have repeatedly refused our suggestion of bringing in a third-party mediator to help resolve the situation.”
McGarrigle, however, told Sara that the union doesn't think that mediation would be productive as long as the company is demanding that its offer be accepted.