Unifor threatens complete shutdown of Metro Vancouver bus system for three days next week

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      The union representing Metro Vancouver transit operators and maintenance technicians is prepared to ratchet up job action if its demands aren't met.

      Unifor's chief negotiator, Gavin McGarrigle, has told reporters that a full-scale strike will take place for three days next week. 

      "Following the driver overtime ban, which is still set to occur this Friday, November 22—after that, and beginning one week from today—we will engage in a complete system shutdown on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week," McGarrigle said. "No members of Unifor Local 111 and 2200 will report for work on those days. Picketing will begin at all locations."

      Unifor does not represent SkyTrain or West Coast Express employees, so rapid transit will still be available.

      Unifor's national president, Jerry Dias, has accused TransLink of demonstrating "continued disrespect for our members", which has left little choice but to escalate job action.

      TransLink's wholly owned subsidiary, Coast Mountain Bus Company, says it's offered transit operators at the highest pay grade a $6,000 wage increase over four years, bringing their annual salary over $69,000 before overtime.

      The maintenance technicians at the highest pay grade have been offered $10,000 over four years, which would lift their pay to $88,000 per year before overtime.

      Unifor is seeking wage parity with transit operators in Toronto.

      McGarrigle alleged that TransLink's "poor treatment of workers is having an impact on the broader commuting public".

      Meanwhile, members of CUPE Local 7000, which represent Expo and Millennium SkyTrain workers, have scheduled a strike vote for Thursday (November 21).

      SkyTrain workers cannot engage in any walkouts before filing 72 hours' strike notice.

      Update

      Coast Mountain Bus Company described Unifor's plan as "completely unacceptable". More details are available here.

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