Coast Mountain Bus Company has released a statement in response to the announcement by Unifor, the union representing bus operators and transit maintenance workers, will be moving ahead with the next steps in the transit strike Friday.
CMBC states that it is disappointed that an agreement couldn't be reached at the bargaining table, and that its 'enhanced' proposal includes guaranteed recovery time, as well as previously offered wage increases. Further, it notes that these wage increases are more generous than other public sector settlements in British Columbia.
“This enhanced proposal directly focuses on working conditions. This is the exact issue the union has asked us to improve,” says Coast Mountain Bus Company President Michael McDaniel.
“Wage demands over and above the increases we have already offered will come at the expense of services for customers. We need a deal that’s realistic. It’s time for the union to be willing to compromise.”
The statement highlights the fact that the latest offer includes new measures to address working conditions, which is something that Unifor stated is a top priority.
CMBC states that once the company’s proposal is fully implemented:
- Transit operators would be guaranteed at least 40 minutes of recovery time for every scheduled shift.
- Under regular road conditions transit operators would be paid double time for any minute of recovery time they don’t receive under 40 minutes.
CMBC states that the offer also clarifies that, "operators are permitted to use a washroom whenever necessary," and that it builds on the improvements for working conditions and wages in previous proposals.
- The top annual wage for operators will increase by about $6,100 over the next four years, bringing their annual salary to $69,900
- The top annual wage for skilled trades will increase by about $10,000 over the next four years, bringing their annual salary to $88,000
CMBC says that it is asking the union to be more realistic about wage demands, because the current offer, "far exceeds public sector settlements in British Columbia."
Unifor lead negotiator Gavin McGarrigle and other Unifor representatives held a news conference in New Westminster earlier this week.
McGarrigle mentioned how, “TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond could see his pay soar by 25% to nearly $500,000 a year, while the head of the Toronto Transit Commission earns $150,000 less each year.”
“CMBC President Michael McDaniel has been on the job for about a year and a half and could see his salary soar by 18% to about $372,000,” he said.
McGarrigle added that, “both of these transit executives make more than the Prime Minister.”
“Translink simply doesn’t treat its workers fairly. They divide their workers into separate companies and tell skilled trades not to compare their wages with each other. In the employer’s mind, a comparison to Toronto’s transit system is fine for executive wages, but it’s somehow offside for transit operators,” said Gavin McGarrigle.