Updated: Latest negotiations between union, Coast Mountain Bus Company collapse

Overtime ban by bus drivers will go ahead Friday and will continue next week

Talks between the union representing over 5,000 Coast Mountain Bus Company workers and their employer have once again broken down.

According to a tweet by the union, “today’s transit strike talks with TransLink have failed to reach a fair resolution for transit workers.”

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The union will now be escalating strike action with a one-day overtime ban by bus drivers on Friday. 

While negotiations between Coast Mountain and Unifor resumed earlier this week, the union warned that if the two parties couldn't reach an agreement, there would be further strike action on Friday.

The union also said it would continue the transit operators' overtime ban Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week, and could repeat these bans each week going forward. 

Coast Mountain president Michael McDaniel said that this action will "significantly impact" transit users.

Workers are asking for improved wages, benefits and working conditions.

“TransLink simply doesn’t treat its workers fairly,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor western regional director.

“They divide their workers into separate companies and tell skilled trades not to compare their wages to 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.”

Coast Mountain said it is “disappointed” that an agreement couldn’t be reached.

According to the company, its latest offer includes a guaranteed 40-minute recovery time plus previously-offered wage increases that are “more generous than other public sector settlements in British Columbia.”

Under this proposal, there would be a wage increase for transit operators of about $6,100 over the next four years to $69,900. For maintenance workers, there would be an increase of about $10,000 over the next four years to $88,000.

Transit operators would also be paid double time, under regular road conditions, for any minute of recovery time they don’t receive under 40 minutes.

The proposal clarifies that operators "can use the washroom whenever necessary."

“This enhanced proposal directly focuses on working conditions. This is the exact issue the union has asked us to improve,” said Michael McDaniel, Coast Mountain’s president.

“Wage demands over and above the increases we have already offered will come at the expense of services for our customers. We need a deal that’s realistic. It’s time for the union to be willing to compromise.”

Unifor said that transit workers want to sign a contract, but TransLink’s offer isn’t fair.

The transit strike has been ongoing since Nov. 1 and so far action has been limited to a uniform ban by bus drivers and an overtime strike by maintenance workers.

Since the strike began, Seabus sailings have been cancelled almost daily and some bus trips have been affected.

Transit riders' woes don't necessarily end with the bus strike. Yesterday, CUPE Local 7000, which represents SkyTrain workers, announced that talks had broken down with B.C. Rapid Transit Company. The union will now be meeting with members to consider next steps, which could lead to a strike vote. 

Canada Line and West Coast Express are represented by other unions.

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