News » Whistler

PCL strike averted after talks



A strike by Pacific Coach Lines (PCL) workers has been averted, a company spokeswoman told Pique Thursday.

Pique previously reported that the bus company, which services a route between Whistler and the Vancouver Airport, could go on strike as early as this Saturday after receiving information that the Canadian Auto Workers Local 114, which represents PCL workers, served a 72-hour strike notice with a strike deadline of January 2 at 12:01 a.m.

The company responded by issuing a lockout notice.

Now Darian Tooley, PCL's director of sales and marketing, said both parties have agreed that no strike action and no lockout would take place.

"Both parties have agreed on very many points," she said. "It's a laundry list and I don't have the laundry list in front of me.

"They're in hour number 27 or 28 (of negotiations) right now, they went all night. So it's good news, it's been averted, so that's the comment at this time - business as usual."

Gavin McGarrigle, spokesman for the union, wouldn't offer any immediate comments but said he could provide an update at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The agreement comes as worries increase that a prolonged strike could disrupt service before and during the 2010 Olympics. Pacific Coach Lines is planning 26 shuttles a day between Vancouver and Whistler from January 25 to March 1 and is already running 25 buses a day.

Service from Whistler to Vancouver during the Games will see a first bus leave the village at 3 a.m. and the last at 9:30 p.m.

The union, representing 127 workers including drivers, mechanics, service staff and ticket agents, seek a collective bargaining agreement to address issues such as wages, benefits, pensions and job security.

Workers are also concerned that PCL's board of directors also runs Cantrail Coach Lines and is contracting work out to another company it owns.

McGarrigle said in a previous story that the last contract included a clause that allowed PCL to contract work out to another company if they didn't have enough equipment and drivers but the union wondered whether Cantrail Coach Lines was truly another company if run by the same directors.