Last-minute deal averts three-day bus system shutdown

A tentative last-minute deal between the transit workers’ union and TransLink has averted a three-day bus system shutdown that would have left many commuter students, staff and faculty scrambling to find alternate ways to campus.

Unifor, the union representing over 5,000 bus, SeaBus and maintenance workers and their employer Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) a TransLink subsidiary, reached the tentative agreement around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The planned three-day full strike action by the union, which would have completely shut down the Metro Vancouver bus system, has been cancelled.

“This contract recognizes that Unifor members are the backbone of the Metro Vancouver transit system,” said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle in a media release.

Transit workers were in the midst of a 26-day strike involving uniform and overtime bans. The strike had seen several SeaBus routes cancelled and buses delayed.

One of the main sticking points during the negotiations was wage increases. Transit workers had been working without a contract since August 31 as negotiations pressed on.

“As a result of this agreement, our employees will benefit from a competitive package which features improved wages, benefits, and working conditions,” said CMBC President Michael McDaniel in a media release.

“I would like to commend both parties for working together and finding common ground to end this difficult chapter for our customers, employees, and the company.”

While UBC said they recognized the strike would impact many students, staff and faculty, the university planned to operate as normal and classes would not be cancelled.

“We recognize this escalation in job action will cause disruption for students, faculty and staff and we appreciate their concerns,” reads a statement on the university’s website.

The AMS opened the Nest for 24-hours to help students without alternative transportation.

Now that a deal has been reached, full-scale strike action has been avoided. The next step is for the union and CMBC to ratify the deal which will take several weeks.