Metro Vancouver bus drivers’ union to vote on contract deal Thursday

The union representing 5,000 Metro Vancouver bus, SeaBus and maintenance workers will vote on a tentative contract agreement on Thursday.

A three-day, full-scale bus strike was averted last week after Unifor and the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) came to an 11th-hour deal in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The union and the employer had been at an impasse for three weeks until the breakthrough, with workers slowly ratcheting up job action culminating in the planned full strike.

The details of the agreement have not yet been made public.

Prior to the deal, TransLink had said union wage demands jeopardized its transit expansion plan. However, after the deal was reached, the agency said there were no plans to roll back expansion in any way.

Prior to the deal, the two sides had been an estimated $150 million apart on wage demands. Transit operators said they wanted their salaries calculated in reference to what Toronto operators are paid, while maintenance workers wanted their salaries looked at in relation to their colleagues in the SkyTrain system.

Before Wednesday’s breakthrough, the employer’s best offer was a $6,000 hike for transit operators and $10,000 for maintenance workers.

Working conditions were another flashpoint, with transit operators demanding guaranteed breaks. Ahead of the deal, CMBC had said it was offering a guaranteed 40 minutes of recovery time.

The ratification vote will take place at the Aria Convention Centre in Surrey between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, with final results expected around 8:45 p.m.

Meanwhile, mediated bargaining between Cupe 7000, the union representing 900 SkyTrain workers, and the BC Rapid Transit Company continues.

Both sides met for two days last week, with bargaining slated to continue Monday. Eight days of mediation were scheduled.

The union voted 96.8 per cent to give its leadership a strike mandate late last month.


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