British Columbia

Metro Vancouver bus drivers refusing overtime Friday, 10% of system could be affected

Metro Vancouver transit users are being advised to check transit alerts Friday as bus drivers refuse overtime work, which could result in trip cancellations across the region.

It's the 3rd day drivers have refused overtime this week, meaning buses run less frequently

Commuters board a bus at the Marine Gateway bus loop in Vancouver on Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Metro Vancouver transit users are being advised to check transit alerts Friday as bus drivers refuse overtime work, which could result in trip cancellations across the region.

It's the third day bus drivers have refused overtime this week — meaning buses run less frequently — as ongoing job action escalates toward a planned three-day shutdown starting next Wednesday.

Maintenance workers, mechanics and SeaBus workers have been participating in an overtime ban since Nov. 1, which has led to hundreds of trip cancellations.

Negotiations between Unifor, which represents 5,000 transit workers, and their employer, Coast Mountain Bus Company, broke off last week.

Commuters at the Marine Gateway bus loop in Vancouver on Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Unifor spokesperson Gavin McGarrigle said transit users will likely face more delays and cancellations as the job action continues.

"There is usually more overtime on a Friday so we will wait and see what it is. But we expect about 10 per cent of the system to be impacted overall," McGarrigle said.

Passengers are advised to check TransLink's transit alerts for information on disruptions to their route.

McGarrigle said things are going to get worse if a deal isn't negotiated.

"If we don't have a deal by next Wednesday, we'll be moving to pull all the workers off the job Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," he said.

Negotiations still off

The union and CMBC have failed to reach an agreement on wages, benefits and working conditions.

TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy said the company is trying to get back to negotiations.

"Coast Mountain Bus Company has offered mediation to the union four times and the union refuses to take part in that," Murphy said.

Unifor said the company is trying to deflect by calling for mediation when they are not seriously negotiating.

On Thursday, unionized SkyTrain workers also voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action. But so far, they have agreed to mediation with their employer, the B.C. Rapid Transit Company, beginning next week.

There is increasing pressure on the B.C. government to step in to settle the dispute, but is so far refusing to intervene.

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