12/07/2019 20:14 EST | Updated 12/08/2019 18:52 EST

Metro Vancouver's SkyTrain Will Shut Down As Workers Strike

The shutdown will begin at 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

Bayne Stanley/The Canadian Press
SkyTrain light rapid transit cars in Vancouver on Sept. 16, 2015. 

VANCOUVER — The union representing 900 SkyTrain workers says a three-day system shutdown is planned starting Tuesday morning unless a deal is reached with the BC Rapid Transit Company.  

CUPE 7000 issued a 72-hour strike notice on Friday after four days of mediated talks, during which the union says no significant progress was made on key issues including wages, forced overtime and staffing levels.

Union president Tony Rebelo says he understands the shutdown will inconvenience transit riders and hopes to reach an agreement before Tuesday morning.

If an agreement isn’t reached, the union says SkyTrain service will be shut down between 5 a.m. on Tuesday and 5 a.m. on Friday.

Rebelo says the union and its employer have been at the bargaining table or in mediation for almost 50 days after the last contract expired Aug. 31.

Last month, union members, including SkyTrain attendants, control operators, administrators, maintenance and technical staff, voted 96.8 per cent in favour of striking if a deal can’t be reached.

The president of the BC Rapid Transit Company Michel Ladrak says it is “completely unacceptable the union has chosen to use the 150,000 people who use the Expo and Millennium Lines each weekday as leverage,” adding that the company will continue bargaining until the last moment in hopes of avoiding the strike.

The company says the Canada Line, West Coast Express, bus, SeaBus and HandyDART services will operate as normal, and it’s working with Coast Mountain Bus Company and TransLink to secure additional bus service on existing routes should the strike proceed.

The union says the last SkyTrain strike was a single-day shutdown more than 20 years ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2019.

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