British Columbia

West Vancouver transit workers to strike Monday

The union representing bus drivers and transit workers in West Vancouver says its 149 members will go on strike indefinitely starting Monday.

Last ditch talks with municipality on Sunday fell apart

Bus drivers in West Vancouver voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike last week and issued a 72-hour notice on Thursday. (Flickr/Stephen Rees)

The union representing bus drivers and transit workers in West Vancouver says its 149 members will go on strike indefinitely starting Monday.

"We made no progress today in the talks, so more pressure has to be put on the employer and unfortunately that means a full strike," said Bill Tieleman, speaking for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 134.

The union's 149 members — drivers and mechanics — operate 52 buses that make 18,000 trips per day, according to Tieleman.

"We are extremely disappointed and extremely frustrated with West Vancouver District being the only municipality in British Columbia that won't negotiate a new collective agreement with its transit workers," said union president Geoff Devlin in a written statement.

He says the employer is still requesting concessions on worker benefit packages and will not meet a need to retain mechanics.

Strike 'will hurt'

Meanwhile the District of West Vancouver says it has not asked for any concessions to existing benefits from the transit union and has offered a fair wage and benefits package.

"By proceeding with this unnecessary strike, the transit union will be causing hardship for those who depend on Blue Bus, especially students and seniors," district spokesman Jeff McDonald said in a written statement. 

McDonald said the district made "significant movements" in talks on Sunday and a full strike could have been avoided.  

The union has been in a legal strike position since Sunday. Tieleman says the strike will go on indefinitely as no new negotiations are planned with a mediator.

Bus to ferry terminal also affected

Already this past week an overtime ban led to the cancellation of dozens of trips each day on the West Vancouver service.

West Vancouver operates about a dozen suburban routes in the Blue Bus system.

The strike will also affect the 257 route — the main express bus service that connects Metro Vancouver's public transit system to the BC Ferries terminal at Horseshoe Bay.

Greyhound and Tofino Bus also run buses that connect with the ferries about four times a day from the Vancouver bus station.

The union's contract with the District of West Vancouver expired March 31, 2016 and negotiations began in May.

According to the union, this will be the first strike in 100 years of West Vancouver bus service.