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Vancouver bus drivers' contract negotiation at critical stage

Almost 100 percent of the 4,700 unionized Vancouver-area transit workers employed by TransLink subsidiary Coast Mountain Bus voted late Thursday to support a strike in stalled contract negotiations. According to the Vancouver Sun, the president of the local Unifor union that represents transit operators said that there is "no indication of when, or if, 72-hour strike notice would be given ..." and that further collective bargaining negotiations are scheduled to continue. 

The transit workers at issue include metro Vancouver transit operators, mechanics and SeaBus workers who reportedly agreed in 2014 to a year-long extension of their last contract if it was increased by 1.75 percent. After that, a transportation plebiscite that would have instituted a sales tax to fund transportation in the area failed at the hands of voters.

These transit workers have not gone on strike since 2001. The Vancouver Sun reports that in that strike, which lasted more than four months, the issues were wages, hiring of part-time workers, "work rules and efficiency incentives." 

Union officials and represented workers are negotiating with the employer for a collective bargaining agreement about: 

  • Wage levels
  • Food and bathroom breaks that are restricted by "tight bus scheduling"
  • Benefits, especially for worker dependents
  • Sunday time-and-a-half wage rates
  • Old equipment needing replacement
  • And more issues 

In labour disputes like this one, public pressure to resolve the dispute may mount quickly in the event of a strike. More news on this is sure to unfold in the near future.

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