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Special mediator appointed in Metro Vancouver transit dispute that stranded thousands

January 24, 2024
The Canadian Press

Buses line the Vancouver Transit Centre as transit workers from the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4500 strike in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

A 48-hour strike that took almost all Metro Vancouver buses off the road this week has prompted the British Columbia government to appoint a special mediator to attempt to end the labour dispute.

Labour Minister Harry Bains says veteran mediator Vince Ready will work with CUPE local 4500 and the Coast Mountain Bus Company starting Thursday after both sides agreed to the process.

Bains says in a statement that Ready will work with the parties for six days and if an agreement can’t be reached by then, he’ll issue non-binding recommendations and both sides will have five days to either accept or reject the proposal.

“With his appointment, the parties have all the tools they need to reach an agreement, and I thank them for agreeing to work with him to end this dispute.”


Strike action on Monday and Tuesday affected hundreds of thousands of commuters when the union representing about 180 transit supervisors picketed outside transit stations, preventing buses from leaving on their routes.

Bus drivers belong to a different union but members respected the picket lines.

Coast Mountain says in a statement that Ready’s appointment is good news for bus riders.

“We hope the union will not resume any job action while the special mediator is doing his work.”

The union wasn’t immediately available for comment on its plans for strike action.

The Labour Relations Board is hearing a complaint from the union on Monday and Tuesday, alleging Coast Mountain unfairly tried to reduce the impact of its job action.

If the union’s claim is upheld, CUPE 4500 could be allowed to picket additional sites such as SkyTrain stations.

That would shut down the rail service, according to CUPE Local 7000, which represents SkyTrain workers.

Regional transport operator TransLink says Coast Mountain’s services resumed early Wednesday before the start of the morning rush to work and school.

Ready has already been involved in this dispute and worked with both sides last weekend before talks broke down, setting off the strike action.

The bus company said the union was demanding a 25-per-cent pay rise, while the union said Coast Mountain tried to bully it in the negotiations.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says in a statement that it welcomes Ready’s appointment.

“Mr. Ready’s credentials are well demonstrated, and the appointment conveys the seriousness of the dispute’s economic impact,” says board president Bridgitte Anderson.

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