TransLink has confirmed that 11 bus routes were affected as a result of the transit strike action during the morning rush Thursday. However, Unifor, the union representing bus operators and transit maintenance workers, argues that 42 ‘segments’ were affected.
TransLink has been scaling back SeaBus sailings on the busy Waterfront to Lonsdale Quay connector since Friday, Nov. 1, when Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) operators and maintenance workers represented by Unifor began job action.
Each day, the transit authority has issued a statement about which sailings would be cancelled, and has been able to do so in advance of the scheduled sailings. In contrast, it reports that it cannot provide notice on which bus routes will be affected.
Ben Murphy, senior media relations officer with TransLink, told Vancouver Is Awesome in an email that the SeaBus isn’t permitted to sail without a minimum number of crew on board as required by Transport Canada. Since there is a shortage of skilled workers who can operate the SeaBus, the transit authority knows in advance of how many sailings will be cancelled. If someone is sick or on vacation, it relies on ‘flexible shifts who can cover absences.’
With this in mind, Gavin McGarrigle, Western regional director with Unifor, told Vancouver Is Awesome that he believes that TransLink is aware of which bus routes will be affected. In fact, he said that many ‘rank and file’ Unifor members – such as transit operators and maintenance workers – provided anecdotal evidence of up to 42 ‘bus segments’ that had been affected as a result of job action.
McGarrigle notes that all 42 bus segments originated in the Vancouver Transit Centre, but that a possible that five or six came out of Surrey, too. He adds that he believes TransLink is creating, “A misleading campaign to blame the workers,” and minimize their own impact on the dispute.
McGarrigle remarks that TransLink hasn’t addressed pay inequities between executives and workers, as well as minimum break time. He notes that the workers won’t forget this struggle, and that it can only lead to “poor labour relations” down the line.
TransLink did not inform riders of delays on buses due to the transit strike today. In addition, its numbers do not match the ones provided by McGarrigle.
“Union job action resulted in a reduction of frequency on 11 bus routes during the morning rush today,” wrote Murphy in an email. “The majority of routes affected were high-frequency routes.”
Murphy notes that the affected bus routes include the 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 17, 22, 25, 32, and 41.
“Coast Mountain Bus Company is making every effort to ensure reliable service, but the union’s job action will continue to have impacts on the system. The union has been asked to return to bargaining and take part in mediation, but they have repeatedly refused,” he states.
On top of what Coast Mountain Bus Company is currently offering, the union is demanding an additional $608 million in wages, benefits, and working conditions over 10 years.
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