Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

'Shutting down all bus services': Union threatens full bus strike in Metro Vancouver

Commuters would face a suspension of all buses and the SeaBus.
Snowy Vancouver weather has affected services but commuters may faced a complete bus strike starting on Jan. 22, 2024.

The union representing transit supervisors across Metro Vancouver may move forward with a full bus strike next week. 

CUPE 4500 — the union that represents transit supervisors, including ones that oversee bus drivers and mechanics — may expand its current overtime work ban to "shutting down all bus services" starting at 3 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 22.

After reaching an impasse with employer Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), the union commenced strike action on Jan. 6, affecting all operations in the company's system. 

Wages have been the central issue at the bargaining table. The union wants its supervisors to be paid the same as SkyTrain Field Supervisors but CMBC says the roles are incomparable because the latter is responsible for directly managing employees. 

CMBC president and general manager Michael McDaniel told V.I.A. in a previous interview that the transit supervisors' union has "unrealistic expectations that are nearly double" what all other unions have accepted and is asking for 25 per cent wage increases over the next three years. 

CUPE 4500 Spokesperson Liam O’Neill says the union has never proposed a “25 per cent across-the-board wage increase" and some members get paid far less than other transit workers for the same jobs.

"It’s not fair, and we need to find a solution at the table," he told V.I.A. "The additional annual cost to Coast Mountain for our wage proposal is less than 0.05% of Coast Mountain’s 2024 budget for wages, salaries, and benefits.

"It’s essentially a rounding error and yet they still refuse to deal with the wage inequity that exists.”

What would a full Coast Mountain bus strike look like in Metro Vancouver? 

Now in its 12th day of a ban on overtime work, the union says it will escalate strike action if a collective agreement isn't met before Jan. 22. If they move forward with the strike, it will effectively shut down all bus services. 

“CUPE 4500 has been waiting over four weeks for Coast Mountain to respond to our latest proposal. Our patience for Coast Mountain to take bargaining and our issues seriously has been exhausted,” said CUPE 4500 spokesperson Liam O’Neill at a press conference Thursday in Burnaby.

“Our members deserve a fair deal.”

A complete strike would commence in the wee hours of Monday morning and continue for 48 hours. Commuters would face a suspension of all buses and the SeaBus for the two-day withdrawal, according to a news release.

CMBC operates more than 96 per cent of TransLink's bus routes in Metro Vancouver.

“We regret the disruptions passengers will be experiencing, but we are out of options,” said O’Neill. “Unless Coast Mountain commits to ensure transit supervisors get the same wages as others doing similar work, and take our workload issues seriously, we are left with no choice.”

In response to the strike notice, CMBC urged the union to rethink its decision, characterizing it as "disappointing." It also noted that the union's actions could have "major impacts" on the system, "up to a full shut down" of bus and SeaBus services, according to a statement released Thursday evening. 

Any impacts to service will be communicated to customers as they are known.