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PCL strike averted, says company spokesperson

Marathon negotiations are continuing but agreement apparently reached on many points



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

Pique previously reported that the bus company, which services a route between Whistler and Vancouver International Airport, could face a work stoppage as early as last Saturday. The Canadian Auto Workers Local 114, which represents PCL workers, served 72-hour strike notice and set a strike deadline of Jan. 2 at 12:01 a.m.

The company responded by issuing a lockout notice.

On Thursday, Dec. 31 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 mediated 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, couldn't offer any immediate comments, but a CAW news release issued Dec. 31 said the bargaining committee is "unanimously" recommending acceptance of a three-year deal with Pacific Coach Lines.

The release goes on to say that negotiations went on for 30 straight hours and that ratification meetings are being held this week.

In a voicemail message left on Dec. 31, McGarrigle confirmed there's a tentative agreement and there will no longer be a strike or a lockdown.

The agreement puts to rest fears that a strike would disrupt service during the 2010 Olympics. Pacific Coach Lines is planning 26 shuttles a day between Vancouver and Whistler from Jan. 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, sought a collective bargaining agreement to address issues such as wages, benefits, pensions and job security.

The union was also concerned that PCL's board of directors runs Cantrail Coach Lines and is contracting work out to that company.

McGarrigle said previously 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 another company at all if run by the same directors.

Buses will travel through a different loop in Whistler during the Games. Instead of stopping near the Visitor Info Centre, just behind the Whistler Clearance Centre and Tommy Africa's, buses will travel along Main Street and stop near the 7-11 at the intersection with Northlands Boulevard.

Fares for drop-off in Whistler Zone 1, which includes Club Intrawest, the Crystal Lodge and Whistler Village Inn and Suites, will be $57 one-way and $104 for a round trip.

Fares for drop-off in Whistler Zone 2, which includes areas such as the Nita Lake Lodge and Whistler Creek, are $67 one-way and $121 for a round trip.

Fares for drop-off in Whistler Zone 3, which includes the Edgewater Lodge, Kadenwood and Nicklaus North, are $73 one-way and $132 round trip.




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