Countdown to SkyTrain strike: Last-minute bargaining underway
Published Monday, December 9, 2019 11:31AM PST Last Updated Monday, December 9, 2019 12:53PM PST
VANCOUVER -- Dec. 10 update: The strike was called off and a tentative deal has been reached. Developing story here.
Bargaining between the BC Rapid Transit Company and CUPE 7000 resumed Monday morning, after a marathon session of negotiations the night before.
Many SkyTrain riders at Broadway-Commercial station said they’re frustrated and confused with the situation.
“I am worried because I don’t really have anyone that could drive me,” said a commuter named Andressa as she headed to school. “I live in Surrey and I go to school at Langara. It’s going to affect my finals, my work.”
She said the uncertainty has caused her anxiety during an already intense time.
“Especially having finals right now, I don’t really have the energy and stability to deal with one more thing,” she explained.
UBC, BCIT and Kwantlen have said exams and classes will go on as scheduled even if the job action takes place.
Some 150,000 people ride SkyTrain every weekday.
“Cab is not an option. Cab is very expensive taking a cab all the way from Surrey to Vancouver will cost like $80. I’m not coming to work then,” said Vince Bhamra, who rides the train daily.
TransLink said it will provide “stored value credit” to monthly pass holders should job action happen, provided they don’t use their Compass Cards on any other of its services.
Workers have been without a contract since August and have been unable to reach a deal with BCRTC ever since.
The sticking points are wages, staffing and overtime.
Union members voted 96.8 per cent in favour of strike action last month.
CUPE 7000 represents 900 attendants, control operators and administration and maintenance staff.
“They’ve hit the nuclear button and they’ve gone with a very extreme measure of job action,” said Ben Murrphy, a spokesperson for TransLink, ”and now they’re trying to back away from it and say this isn’t our fault. Well I’m sorry, this is your fault.”
The union’s president fired back on Saturday,releasing a statement that read in part: “TransLink’s Comments do nothing to move the parties closer to an agreement.”
Both sides have been adamant they are committed to reaching a fair deal.
“I support the union because if you look at the transit system, it is owned and operated by people who make profits off of it, so shouldn’t the workers get part of the share?” said Betty Carrillo, a SkyTrain user.
Job action would shut down the Expo and Millennium lines until 5 a.m. Friday, but the West Coast Express and Canada Line would not be impacted.
Commuters have also been warned there won't be any extra buses on the road from Tuesday through Thursday.
“CMBC customers should be aware that given our operational constraints and labour considerations, we are not able to increase bus service in response to the planned strike by BCRTC employees on SkyTrain this week,” said Michael McDaniel, president of Coast Mountain Bus Company in a statement released Monday.
Many SkyTrain riders told CTV News they’re considering using cabs or car shares if the strike goes ahead.
That extra congestion on the road, is expected to create a longer commute for everyone.
All commuters are being urged to allow for extra time Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Further plans for job action have not been announced.
The last SkyTrain shutdown took place 20 years ago, but only lasted one day.