Skip to content

Metro Vancouver transit strike: TransLink applies to make transit an 'essential service'

Transportation companies have applied to the labour board for "essential service" designations.
Another Metro Vancouver strike looms but TransLink hopes to prevent it with an essential designation. Photo: TransLink
  • UPDATE FEB. 1, 2024: CUPE 4500, the union representing over 180 striking transit supervisors, has accepted recommendations on an "acceptable compromise" with its employer ahead of a possible 72-hour transit strike. Read more HERE.

TransLink and other transportation providers have applied to the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB) for essential service designations ahead of another possible Metro Vancouver transit strike.

CUPE 4500 — the union representing some transit supervisors — met with TransLink and several of its branches, including Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) and ProTrans (which operates Canada Line), at a labour board hearing on Wednesday morning to discuss expanding strike action to include the SkyTrain, Canada Line, and West Coast Express. 

No ruling came out of Wednesday's hearing but all the transportation companies involved have applied to the labour board for "essential service" designations.

"TransLink has applied to the LRB for an essential service designation. We understand that CMBC, British Columbia Rapid Transit Company (BCRTC), WCE and ProTrans have also each separately applied for essential service designations at the LRB," a TransLink spokesperson told V.I.A. 

Before any essential service designation is given to TransLink or any of the other transit companies, the LRB must investigate each application and make recommendations to the Minister of Labour.

If the minister deems any of the companies an essential service, the LRB determines the scope of the services that are deemed essential. 

CUPE 4500 plans to implement a 72-hour strike just after midnight on Saturday, Feb. 3 if an agreement isn't made with its employer, CMBC. The LRB hasn't granted them the right to picket the SkyTrain, Canada Line or West Coast Express but they may picket the bus and SeaBus. 

However, the union could lose the legal right to picket at an entity if it is designated as an essential service provider. This means it may not be able to move forward with its strike on the weekend if CMBC operations are deemed essential.  

Under the B.C. Labour Code, any employer can ask the LRB to investigate whether they should be deemed an essential service.

CUPE 4500 spokesperson Gregory Taylor told V.I.A. the hearing on the union's Labour Relations Code Sec. 68 — the complaint that concerns picketing additional transit services — is ongoing.