Threat of a partial shut down of bus service has people in this region worried about how they’re going to get around.
On Monday, the union representing bus drivers served 72-hour notice of job action to Coast Mountain Bus Company, meaning a partial shut down of bus service could begin by Friday.
Union representatives say they are trying to reach a settlement.
“It’s not hard to understand what is happening here. The company is showing little respect for the difficult working conditions that our members must face every day,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
If an agreement is not achieved in the next 72 hours, job action that will affect services will begin. The precise form strike action will take is to be determined but could range from work-to-rule or rolling strike action. The deadline is Thursday evening at midnight.
Some commuters were caught unaware.
DJ Shembi, a New Westminster resident, said Tuesday he hadn’t heard about the possible shut down of service.
“Buses shutting down at any particular area is going to be an inconvenience for commuters who travel daily,” Shembi told Pulse FM. “It’s going to be bad.”
He said his backup plan is getting rides from friends, but he doesn’t know how long he can rely on their goodwill.
“I guess we’ll know more if and when it happens,” he said.
Al from White Rock said he had heard of a potential strike, but he relies on the bus to get to and from appointments.
“It’s going to be a bad scene,” he said, adding he has only one backup plan.
“My bike,” he said, laughing. “That’s about it.”
Unifor’s Gavin McGarrigle said the union is prepared to stay at the bargaining table all week if necessary.
“The company’s lack of movement leaves us little choice but to set a strike deadline,” McGarrigle said.
On October 10, 2019 the two Unifor local unions at the bargaining table voted 99 per cent in favour of strike action. This is the first time in more than 18 years these local unions have issued strike notice. The last time this happened there was a four-month strike in 2001.
Unifor represents more than 5,000 workers at Coast Mountain Bus Company, with Unifor Local 111 representing transit operators in conventional and community shuttles and Unifor Local 2200 representing maintenance and Seabus workers.
Pulse FM will post updates as they are known.