A bus is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Friday, November, 1, 2019. A transit strike remains in the air as talks between Vancouver bus drivers and their employee break down. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

UPDATE: Metro Vancouver bus drivers to refuse overtime as transit strike escalates

Overtime ban could disrupt 10-15 per cent of bus service in Metro Vancouver

The union representing 5,000 striking transit workers in Metro Vancouver has announced it will be placing a ban on overtime work for its bus operators starting Friday.

According to TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews, riders should expect a reduction to bus service by about 10 per cent and prepare for disruptions to service throughout the day until further notice.

“This job action will be difficult to predict for our customers,” an emailed statement from TransLink reads. “Some routes will have gaps in service and there will likely be overcrowding.”

Bargaining between the union and Coast Mountain Bus Company broke down Thursday, less than two days after talks had resumed Wednesday morning. Bus operators and maintenance workers initially began job action on Nov. 1, after negotiations broke down the day before.

Up till now, the job action has involved bus driver ditching their uniforms and an overtime ban for maintenance workers.

READ MORE: Bargaining to resume in Metro Vancouver transit strike as bus driver overtime ban looms

“I’m not optimistic at all,” said Gavin McGarrigle, the western regional director of Unifor.

Speaking at Coast Mountain Bus Company headquarters in Surrey Thursday, president Michal McDaniel said their offer to workers was more than fair.

“We feel like we are competitive today and we do want to remain competitive, that’s why we are lifting those wages faster than the rest of the public sector [in B.C.],” McDaniel said.

The company is offering a 9.6 per cent increase for bus operators and a 12.2 per cent increase for maintenance workers, both over four years.

The union has said those wages are not enough, and not comparable to what transit workers get paid in Toronto, nor to what SkyTrain workers receive.

McDaniel said the comparison to SkyTrain wages is not “apples to apples.”

“We have a Sunday premium, they don’t have a Sunday premium,” he said.

To match the union’s demands, McDaniel said, would cost CMBC $150 million over 10 years.

He said CMBC would be happy to return to the table Unifor gets “more realistic about its wage demands.” McDaniel said the company had agreed to 40 minutes of recovery time with every shift and that operators be paid double time for any minute of that 40 minutes they have to work.

But McGarrigle said there we no agreements in place about either wages or working conditions.

“We did make some progress yesterday but we did not finalize an agreement on working conditions,” he said.

“When we came together early this morning… they completely rejected any comparisons with other large transit systems like Toronto.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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