TransLink, bus drivers' union to resume talks

But union warns strike could get worse if deal isn't reached by Friday

Unionized TransLink bus drivers and their employer are set to the return to the bargaining table Wednesday amid threats that the transit strike could escalate if a deal isn’t reached soon.

Unifor, the union which represents about 5,000 striking transit operators and maintenance workers, indicated Tuesday morning the union was willing to resume negotiations and talks were set to resume Wednesday.

article continues below

Limited job action – involving a ban on overtime for maintenance workers – began Nov. 1. So far that has chiefly involved cancellations of some daily SeaBus sailings.

But the union also warned if a deal isn’t reached, it plans to ramp up the strike to include a ban on bus driver overtime starting Friday.

Unifor spokesman Gavin McGarrigle has warned that could shut down between 10 and 15 per cent of the bus system across Metro Vancouver.

“Disruption will continue to escalate until a full strike will occur,” said McGarrigle Tuesday. Issues in the dispute include wage increases and working conditions, specifically guaranteed breaks for bus drivers.

McGarrigle said traffic congestion and increased ridership has been squeezing out drivers’ break times, which aren’t guaranteed.

Recently that issue was highlighted in a social media post, where a photo of a bus driver “break room” in Lynn Valley appeared to show a microwave set up in close proximity to a toilet.

bus break room
This image of a bus drivers' washroom in Lynn Valley was posted on social media. TransLink issued a statement saying the microwave had plugged in by drivers but was not supposed to be in the washroom. image supplied Reddit

In a statement, TransLink spokeswoman Jill Drews said the facility is supposed to be a washroom only.

Coast Mountain Bus supervisors are “aware staff have been plugging in a microwave in the toilet area” and have “repeatedly removed the microwave, but staff keep putting it back,” she wrote. The bus company does not intend for drivers to cook food in washrooms, she added.

But McGarrigle said Tuesday bus drivers shouldn’t be blamed for installing a microwave in the bathroom if they have no other opportunity to take proper breaks for food. He added the public has not even been aware that bus drivers weren’t getting breaks.

As part of the ongoing job action, six SeaBus sailings were cancelled Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Transit drivers currently earn $32.61 per hour but want wages closer to those earned by transit operators in other major Canadian cities, which are over $35 an hour.

 

Read Related Topics

© Burnaby Now
Sign up for the North Shore News FREE digital newsletter to receive top headlines from each issue in your Inbox.

Report a Typo or Error

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

Please keep your comments, clean, civil and respectful. Comments deemed inappropriate or libelous will be removed. The Burnaby NOW makes no guarantee of comments’ factual accuracy.

The Burnaby Now welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Popular Burnaby Now