Metro Vancouver transit strike continues as premier says he won’t intervene

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transit strike
The Metro Vancouver transit strike continues as the B.C. premier says he won’t intervene. Photo: Bus driving on Granville Street in Vancouver/ Shutterstock

VANCOUVER — Commuters across Metro Vancouver face another day of uncertainty as talks remain stalled in an ongoing transit strike and Premier John Horgan says the province will not intervene.

About 5,000 transit drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance staff began limited job action last week, including a ban on overtime by maintenance workers.

The ban had an almost immediate effect on SeaBus service connecting Vancouver and the North Shore, resulting in sailing cancellations that continued Tuesday with three afternoon round-trips scrubbed.

Horgan told a Vancouver news conference that “collective bargaining should run its course” and his government has “no plans to interfere” in the impasse between Unifor and Coast Mountain Bus Company, which bargains on behalf of TransLink.

Gavin McGarrigle, lead negotiator for Unifor, has said the union is still considering its next steps but could extend the overtime ban to bus drivers, something he believes would immediately impact service by 10 to 15 per cent.

Wages, benefits and working conditions are key issues and Mike McDaniel, president of the Coast Mountain Bus Company, says the company has offered wage increases of 12.2 per cent to maintenance workers and 9.6 per cent to drivers over four years.

No new talks are scheduled, although New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote, the chair of the Mayor’s Council on Metro Vancouver transit, called Monday for a mediator to step into the dispute to head off further disruptions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2019.