TransLink is disputing that the transit strike has caused 41 bus route disruptions in Metro Vancouver Thursday.
The transit authority said there was a “reduction in frequency” on 11 routes, and buses were sent to to fill in gaps on less frequent bus routes, so no one was waiting an exceptionally long time. TransLink does not employ the striking employees, directly, but Coast Mountain Bus Company staff work in TransLink’s network.
However, the union representing 5,000 striking transit workers in Metro Vancouver said the job action has led to 41 interruptions on Thursday.
Gavin McGarrigle, the western regional director of Unifor, said most of the cancellations were out of the Vancouver bus depot. Five of the runs affected were in Surrey.
“There’s been some disruption of trolleys, and buses mostly out of Vancouver,” McGarrigle told Black Press Media by phone. There have been more than 60 SeaBus cancellations since the job action began on Friday.
So far, the job action has seen bus operators shun uniforms, while a overtime ban is in place for maintenance workers.
McGarrigle said talks with Coast Mountain Bus Company, which operates the buses in TransLink’s system, have not resumed.
“CMBC has reached out and they’ve indicated they want to talk about the portion of the outstanding issues,” McGarrigle said.
Unifor is asking for $600 million in increased wages and improved working conditions.
McGarrigle said the union won’t return to the table until CMBC is willing to discuss guaranteed break time for all drivers, and to compare how their workers are treated in comparison to those in Toronto.
Coast Mountain Bus Company president Michael McDaniel has said their worker’s salaries are compared to B.C. public sector ones, not ones in Toronto.
However, when deciding executive compensations, TransLink and CMBC have used Metrolinx, which operates transit in the Greater Toronto area, as a point of comparison.
McGarrigle said the company’s actions throughout the week-long job action have created a “sour” mood among transit workers.
“Regardless of how the dispute ends, what the company has done here has really hurt labour relations,” he said.
In a statement late Thursday morning, McDaniel said the union has made “no attempt” to find common ground.
“Yesterday, Coast Mountain Bus Company formally asked the union to come back to the bargaining table to discuss working conditions for bus operators, but they have once again refused,” McDaniel said.
“We’re ready to talk at the bargaining table but we can’t negotiate with ourselves.”