Metro Vancouver bus users could find themselves waiting a little longer for a ride as early as Saturday.
That’s when the union representing about 180 transit supervisors says it will begin job action if it can’t come to a deal with TransLink subsidiary the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) over a new contract.
CUPE Local 4500 issued a 72-hour strike notice after it said it felt the employer failed to move meaningfully on its demands, amid protracted mediation over its collative agreement. Members have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2022.
How a potential transit strike could impact Lower Mainland commuters
Without a deal, the union will implement an overtime ban starting Saturday morning, which according to Local 4500 representative Liam O’Neill will result in “buses either running late or not at all.”
“This will be noticed in large part because of the lack of staffing. Coast Mountain relies on overtime to fill in behind their supervisors,” he said.
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CMBC, meanwhile, is assuring commuters there will be minimal impact.
“We do not anticipate the union’s planned overtime ban to impact transit services at this time,” president Michael McDaniel wrote in a statement.
According to O’Neill, the two sides remain “far apart” on key issues, including wages and workload.
The bus company told Global News it has offered the union the same general wage increase all other CMBC employees agreed to, which is “consistent with other public sector settlements” in the province.
O’Neill said the union’s problem isn’t with the general wage increase, but that the pay hike comes on base salaries that aren’t equal to supervisors elsewhere in the transit system.
Metro Vancouver transit workers issue 72-hour strike notice
“When compared across TransLink their wages are not on par with other supervisors,” he said.
“We’re just looking for fair wages for these members.”
Both sides say they’re willing to get back to the bargaining table to reach a deal, though it was not clear whether any dates have been set for talks.
But O’Neill said the union was prepared to move to a full walkout if it feels members aren’t seeing progress.
“I’m not going to speak for other unions but if we do a full walkout then our assumption is there will be no buses running,” O’Neill said.
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