Bus union announces full system shutdown November 27 – 29

3:00 p.m.: This article was updated to include remarks from a UBC press conference and that discussions are underway at the UBC Vancouver Senate about altering its Strike and Academic Concessions policies in response to the shutdown.

12:57 p.m.: This story was updated to reflect UBC's announcement that operation will continue as normal.

The slow start to the transit strike is set to speed up next week, as the transit worker’s union has announced full strike action that will effectively shut down Metro Vancouver’s bus and SeaBus system.

In a live press conference from Unifor’s headquarters in New Westminster on November 20, Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle announced a full strike as the next phase of job action.

“We will engage in a complete system shutdown on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week, said McGarrigle. “No members of uniform local 111 and 2200 will report for work on those days, picketing will begin at all locations and we expect a complete shutdown of the bus system in Metro Vancouver as a result.”

There will be no further job action leading up to the full strike except the already scheduled overtime ban on Friday, November 22.

The bus drivers will return to work on Saturday to make sure the transit system operates through the weekend and plan to return to full strike action the following week.

Unifor is also planning a rally in support of transit workers in front of their headquarters on November 28 where members of the public can join in solidarity with transit operators to protest against TransLink.

McGarrigle said the measured job action showed that most of the public was behind bus drivers.

“We know you’re with us and we appreciate your support,” he said.

CMBC president Michael McDaniel condemned the strike in an official statement.

“It is completely unacceptable our customers are being dragged into this dispute,” said McDaniel. “Coast Mountain Bus Company is addressing the union’s complaints about working conditions as well as providing generous wage increases beyond what’s in other public sector settlements in British Columbia. The union is willing to disrupt lives of commuters to get the wages it wants.”

CMBC workers first began strike action on October 31 to demand for higher wages and more break time. Initially, the only action taken was a uniform and overtime ban.

The system shutdown comes after CMBC proposed what it called a “historic” offer to operators of 40 minutes of recovery time per shift, a wage increase of $6,100 over the next four years and $10,000 over the next four years for skilled trades workers.

On its website, UBC announced that students, staff and faculty are expected to attend class and work as usual on the days of the system shutdown.

“We know that a lot of our students come from far afield, and we understand that they're concerned about how they're going to get to and from this campus,” said media relations director of university affairs Matthew Ramsey in a press conference.

He added that the university is encouraging students to use other modes of transportation like biking and car pools, and that students should talk to their instructors and academic advisors to plan going forward.

Ramsey also mentioned that “conversations are underway” in a UBC Vancouver Senate working group tasked with amending the university’s Academic Concession policy. Discussions will continue tonight at the Senate's general meeting at 6:00 p.m.

Tonight, the Senate will also vote to update its Strike Policy to apply to third-party strike action like Unifor's and allow for the creation of a Ad Hoc Labour Disruption Preparedness Committee.

“We have made every effort to avoid escalating to this level. Although we know that this has a significant impact on passengers, the blame lies squarely and fully with TransLink,” said McGarrigle.

“For every student that has problems getting into class, we support your call for leniency by university and college administration during this period until the dispute is resolved.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information is released.