Tomorrow (November 20) will mark 20 days that Metro Vancouver commuters have struggled with unpredictable disruptions to the public-transit system.
A rotating strike initiated by Coast Mountain Bus Company, the TransLink subsidiary that operates the Metro Vancouver’s bus and SeaBus network, has come with SeaBus cancellations and understaffed bus routes that have created lengthy delays for riders.
Now Unifor, the union representing transit operators and transit maintenance staff, has said that additional job actions will be announced Wednesday (November 20).
“Failure by the employer to make new offers at the bargaining table will push Unifor into the next phase of job action, to be announced on Wednesday morning,” a Unifor media release reads. “Following the announcement, dozens of Unifor members from Coast Mountain Bus Company will receive strike training.”
The release provides no additional details on what sort of additional measures Vancouver bus and SeaBus employees might take.
Nearly 5,000 members of Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 have been without a contract since March 31.
Union representatives have said Wednesday’s announcement is a reaction to TransLink’s failure to discuss requested wage increases.
The company initially offered Local 111, which represents transit operators, a 9.6-percent raise over four years and Local 2200, which represents skilled trades, a 12.2-percent raise over four years.
More recently, TransLink said it offered a raise of more than $6,000 per year to Local 111 members, which would bring their top pay level to $69,900 by the fourth year, and offered skilled trades a salary bump that would see their top level of pay rise almost $10,000 to $88,000 in the fourth year (all based on a 37.5-hour workweek).
This week TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews told CBC News that the company doesn’t have the money to give the drivers and support staff the wage-increases their union demands.
"If we go beyond that, it could mean things like raising fares or raising taxes or cutting service that we'd hoped to roll out through expansion plans,” Drews said.