The union representing Canada Line workers announced Friday that it has issued a 72-hour strike notice after negotiations with the employer broke down.
The strike notice was issued to Canada Line operator Protrans BC after four days of mediation, according to the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU), which said no significant progress was made on the key issues of wage parity with other SkyTrain workers, improved sick leave and contract length.
“This dispute is about frontline workers fighting for the respect and support they deserve,” said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU, in a statement.
“The bottom line is our members are demanding fair compensation, meaningful sick benefits and basic respect from their employer for the vital services they’ve provided to our communities, especially during the pandemic.”
The BCGEU represents about 180 Canada Line workers, who have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2019. Negotiations began in February 2020 and members voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action in November 2020.
The Canada Line is privately operated by Protrans BC, which is owned by SNC-Lavalin.
The two parties are set to return to the bargaining table on Sunday, Jan. 31.
“Our members do not want to go on strike, they want to keep working and serving the public as they have done every day since their contract expired in December 2019,” said Smith.
“What our members want is a fair contract. We know the bargaining table is the best way to get there and we are willing to use every minute of the next 72 hours to get that done. If those efforts fail, our members are prepared to take the next step.”
Protrans BC said in a statement that passengers depend on the Canada Line each day and that it also “remains committed to bargaining towards a fair agreement for both parties.”
If a strike occurs, the Millenium and Expo Lines would not be affected as those workers are represented by a different union.