NEWS
11/27/2019 06:48 EST

Vancouver Transit Strike Avoided As Union Agrees To New Deal

A three-day shutdown of services was planned for this week.

Jonathan Hayward/THE CANADIAN PRESS
A bus is seen stopping for passengers in downtown Vancouver on Nov. 1, weeks before a new agreement was reached to avoid a transit disruption in the city.

VANCOUVER — The union representing 5,000 Metro Vancouver transit workers says it has reached a tentative deal with Coast Mountain Bus Company and Translink, averting a planned full system strike.

The tentative deal, which has yet to be ratified, was reached after more than 10 hours of negotiations.

Unifor initially said the union was prepared to negotiate until midnight Wednesday, but extended the deadline by half an hour before the agreement was reached.

Job action started on Nov. 1 when mechanics refused to work overtime and the dispute escalated with others refusing overtime after talks collapsed Nov. 14.

Details of the agreement reached Wednesday have yet to be disclosed.

Wages, benefits and working conditions were the key issues in the dispute.

Watch: The federal government celebrated the end of the CN Rail strike Tuesday. Story continues below. 

 

“Transit workers stood up for one another and fought hard to get a fair contract,” Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, said in a statement Wednesday.

“Total service disruption was a last resort, so our members are relieved that they can return to serving the public.”

Unifor turned the heat up last week, warning of a complete shutdown from Wednesday to Friday if a deal could not be reached.

Transit officials said at the time that 350,000 people used the bus and SeaBus system every day in Metro Vancouver and it warned a full strike could cause chaos with the morning and afternoon commutes as transit riders take their vehicles to work and school. 

Coast Mountain Bus Company said customers may still find some disruption to services in the morning, given the timing of the deal.

“Commuters should check transit alerts to ensure their route is operating on schedule,” the company said Wednesday. 

This isn’t the only labour dispute threatening to stall commuters in Metro Vancouver. 

SkyTrain workers voted in favour of a strike last week, although the two sides have scheduled mediated contract talks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 27, 2019.