Credit to Author: Scott Brown| Date: Fri, 06 Dec 2019 22:43:05 +0000
Unionized SkyTrain workers have issued 72-hour strike notice.
The move from CUPE 7000, which represents 900 SkyTrain workers, follows four days of mediation and more than 40 days of bargaining with TransLink’s B.C. Rapid Transit Company. The union said in a statement that no significant progress has been made on key issues.
The strike notice, issued at 11 a.m. on Friday, comes a day after unionized bus and SeaBus workers voted 84.3 per cent in favour of a three-year agreement.
“We are still committed to reaching an agreement at the table, and our committee will make itself available day and night, over the weekend, to reach a fair deal without any interruption of service,” said CUPE 7000’s president, Tony Rebelo.
CUPE 7000, which represents SkyTrain attendants, control operators, administrators, maintenance and technical staff on the Expo and Millennium lines, voted 96.8 per cent in favour of a strike mandate on Nov. 21.
While the parties are still in bargaining, the SkyTrain union says it will release an update on its job action plan at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Michel Ladrak, president of B.C. Rapid Transit Company, says the union chose to end the mediated talks.
He said in a statement that the union has not informed the company what form the job action might take nor when it would happen.
“While we are disappointed by this development, BCRTC and CUPE will continuing bargaining through the weekend. We are hopeful and committed to reaching a fair deal without disrupting the valuable service we provide to the residents of this region.”
Job action could begin at 11 a.m. Monday at the earliest.
If a strike is called, TransLink will not be able throw out extra buses to replace SkyTrain service on the Expo and Millennium lines, which average 380,000 boardings each weekday.
“The regular bus routes will be beefed up but we won’t be able to run buses from (SkyTrain) station to station like we would with a service disruption. That would be a violation of labour laws,” said TransLink spokeswoman Jill Drews.
Even though SkyTrains are automated, Drews says management will not be able to keep the service going in the event of a strike.
“While trains do not require drivers, staff are required in the control room to run the system. Field staff are also necessary in the event there is a malfunction like a timed out trai,” she said.
For SkyTrain workers, staffing levels in the operations department as wages are big concerns. The union is also demanding changes in the areas of forced overtime and sick leave.
Wages for SkyTrain workers vary based on a person’s duties. On the low end, a receptionist or data-entry clerk makes $24.95 an hour and a customer service attendant makes $26.43 an hour, while an escalator/elevator technician, the highest-paid tradesperson, makes $49.94 an hour.
The last contract expired Aug. 31.
The Canada Line and West Coast Express are not affected by these negotiations.
With files from Jennifer Saltman and the Canadian Press