People who commute
In September, TransLink introduced 10-minute SeaBus service during rush hour. Each vessel must have an engineer aboard, but the company doesn’t have enough engineers on staff to do the job without overtime, which the union is now withholding as part of its job action.
“What we've heard from the company is, already today, at least 14 sailings will be cancelled. We think it's actually going to ramp up over time. Once the maintenance overtime ban fully kicks in, we expect to see less buses on the road and SeaBus service to be impacted even more,” said Gavin McGarrigle, western regional director for Unifor.
It’s hard to predict how many service hours will be lost as TransLink and Coast Mountain have to reallocate staff from routine maintenance to individual breakdowns, McGarrigle said, but both are heavily reliant on overtime.
“So it's going to intensify and the backlog is just going to get bigger and bigger,” he said.
If transit riders feel inconvenienced by the job action, they should register their thoughts with their local mayor and with TransLink, McGarrigle added.
Talks broke down between the two sides of the dispute after 29 bargaining sessions. The employer issued a release on Friday calling for Unifor to come back to the table, but McGarrigle said he has no indication they have been willing to move closer to the union’s demands.
“We're calling for a complete system reset in the way the bus company, transit planners and executives approach the system. Our members are not robots, they're humans - and the passengers deserve some kind of a reasonable experience as well,” he said.
West Vancouver’s Blue Bus service will not be directly impacted by the job action as they have a separate union. In 2016, the staged a one-day full transit strike before reaching an agreement with the District of West Vancouver.