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B.C. bus drivers won’t cross picket line in event of strike by supervisors: union

January 19, 2024
The Canadian Press

(jekershner7/Getty Images)

A potential strike by more than 180 transit supervisors seeking a new contract in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland could have a major effect on commuters next week, with the bus drivers’ union saying it would back such action.

Unions representing thousands of bus drivers and maintenance employees in Metro Vancouver wrote to members this month saying they are expected not to cross the picket line if there is a full strike by the supervisors.

CUPE Local 4500, which represents the transit supervisors, has said it will be “withdrawing all services” on Monday if an agreement with Coast Mountain Bus Company isn’t made.

The union says its patience has “been exhausted” as it waits for the company to advance bargaining, and unless an agreement is reached, all services including the SeaBus will be suspended by 3 a.m. on Jan. 22 for two days.


“We regret the disruptions passengers will be experiencing, but we are out of options,” spokesman Liam O’Neill said in a statement.

“Unless Coast Mountain commits to ensure transit supervisors get the same wages as others doing similar work, and take our workload issues seriously, we are left with no choice.”

Unifor Locals 111 and 2200, which represent about 4,000 bus drivers and 1,100 skilled trades and support workers, say in their letter to members that they support the democratic bargaining process and the ability of unions to go on strike.

The letter is dated Jan. 5, the day before the transit supervisors started refusing overtime. It says members will also stop working in “acting” positions that are within CUPE’s jurisdiction.

Coast Mountain president Michael McDaniel has said the union is seeking a 25-per-cent wage increase, and a total shutdown of bus and SeaBus services could eventuate.

“Simply put, it is unreasonable for this group of supervisors to demand nearly double the increase that all other CMBC unions have accepted,” he said.

“If the union proceeds with picket lines, there could be major impacts to our services up to a full shutdown of the SeaBus and bus system.”

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says it’s concerned about the economic impact of the transit dispute.

It says “the possible two-day transit shutdown would have significant ramifications on our local economy and negatively impact the lives of the hundreds of thousands of residents and workers who rely on transit to get to and from work.”

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