UPDATED: Transit strike averted in Metro Vancouver

Unifor and Coast Mountain Bus Company come to a tentative agreement at the 11th hour

With negotiations going down to the wire, the union representing Metro Vancouver transit workers and Coast Mountain Bus Company came to a tentative agreement early Wednesday morning, averting a three-day shut down of bus and SeaBus service.

The last-minute talks started Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the Unifor’s deadline of midnight Wednesday to start a three-day shut down of bus and SeaBus service. At the last minute, the union extended the deadline until 12:30 a.m.

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Unifor transit workers announce a tentative agreement with Coast Mountain Bus Company #transitstrike pic.twitter.com/EsMUb41kV9

— Unifor Canada (@UniforTheUnion) November 27, 2019

The job action started Nov. 1 with an overtime ban for maintenance employees and a driver uniform ban. After two weeks and no progress in negotiations, the union extended the overtime to include bus drivers. Since the beginning of November, hundreds of SeaBus sailings have been cancelled, and an untold number of bus routes have been affected.

Details of the agreement, which still has to be ratified, have not yet been released.

Wages, benefits and working conditions were the key issues in the dispute.

"Transit workers stood up for one another and fought hard to get a fair contract," Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Total service disruption was a last resort, so our members are relieved that they can return to serving the public."

Coast Mountain Bus Company president Michael McDaniel commended both sides for "working together and finding common ground to end this difficult chapter for our customers, employees, and the company."

The company said customers may still find some disruption to services in the morning, given the timing of the deal.

"Commuters should check transit alerts to ensure their route is operating on schedule," the company said Wednesday.

This isn't the only labour dispute threatening to stall commuters in Metro Vancouver.

SkyTrain Expo and Millennium Line workers voted in favour of a strike last week, although the two sides have scheduled mediated contract talks.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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