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Metro Vancouver transit workers' strike: Union urged not to escalate job action

The union is being urged not to escalate strike action ahead of dangerous winter weather.
Coast Mountain Bus Community and TransLink provided an update on the bus strike in January 2024 ahead of harsh Vancouver weather and possible snowfall. File photo.

Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) says the union representing transit supervisors does not have "realistic expectations," which is preventing both parties from reaching an agreement as the bus strike continues into its fourth day.

On Tuesday morning (Jan. 9), CMBC held a press conference to address CUPE 4500's latest demands, as well as to urge its members to reconsider their current expectations. 

Wages have been the central issue at the bargaining table, resulting in an impasse between the union and its employer. However, CMBC says its wage increases are "consistent with public sector settlements." 

CMBC President and General Manager Michael McDaniel told V.I.A. that the transit supervisors' union has "unrealistic expectations that are nearly double" what all other unions have accepted; it is asking for 25 per cent wage increases over the next three years. 

The union asserts that CMBC Transit Supervisors should 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 Transit Supervisors do not hire, discipline, or fire employees, according to CMBC. 

Could the transit worker's strike impact Metro Vancouver commutes?

While the transit system hasn't been impacted so far, CMBC urges union members not to impact customers and their colleagues by escalating job action further.  

CUPE 4500 told V.I.A. in a previous interview that bus delays are possible in the coming days, particularly with widespread snowfall in the Metro Vancouver weather forecast.

"The impacts of this action will be felt across the system in the coming days as buses are lost to unaddressed maintenance issues, and supervisors are unavailable to help resolve the many service interruptions that can naturally occur across the system," CUPE servicing representative Liam O’Neill told V.I.A.

"The threat of snow in our region will only make the impacts greater should the Lower Mainland experience substantial accumulations."

Talks previously broke down between the union and CMBC after their collective agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2022; the parties didn’t start bargaining until Oct. 16, 2023. 

The union voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action on Dec. 22, 2023.

TransLink will communicate any impacts to service related to the bus strike as they are known. For real-time information about their route, customers should sign up for Transit Alerts, check the Transit Alerts Page, follow TransLink on  X (Twitter), or call the Customer Information Phone Line at 604-953-3333.