Bus strike, if it happens, would affect 1.1 million riders daily

Roughly 4,700 transit workers serving Metro Vancouver will vote on April 28 whether to strike.

We'll learn next Thursday if the region's bus drivers will be going on strike.

SURREY — Bus drivers, SeaBus operators and other public transit employees working for Coast Mountain Bus Company, TransLink’s largest subsidiary, will vote next Thursday on whether or not to strike.

Unifor Local 111, which represents roughly 4,700 transit workers serving about 1.1 million riders daily, is holding a strike vote on April 28 at the Italian Cultural Center at 3075 Slocan St. in Vancouver.

According to a bargaining bulletin posted on the union’s website, Unifor wants to “move” the company “off their entrenched position of ‘concessionary bargaining'” and achieve a “fair” wage increase.

“The key concessionary issues tabled by the company involve removal of Sunday premiums, lengthened step rates, concessionary benefit proposals, and other changes, all of which will negatively affect current and future members,” the union’s bulletin to its members reads.

“The optimizations and erosion of working benefits and conditions are no longer acceptable to our members.”

Unifor says over the past five years have seen reduced running and recovery times, increased passenger loads and greater congestion.

Transit operators’ starting wage is $19.59, reaching a top rate of $30.91 after two years.

The last local bus strike was 15 years ago.

TransLink’s website is silent on the labour dispute. It notes that the Coast Mountain Bus Company is its largest operating company, providing 96 per cent of the region’s bus service.

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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