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Looming three-day transit strike has businesses preparing for the worst
NORTH VANCOUVER -- Nov. 27 update: Tentative deal struck, Vancouver bus strike averted
Many businesses on the North Shore are concerned they'll see fewer customers and their employees won’t be able to get to work if the transit strike continues as planned on Wednesday.
At North Shore Sports Medicine, physiotherapists have been hearing from their patients that they will cancel appointments if the strike goes ahead.
“If patients can’t make it, it will upset their treatment plans and their recovery,” owner Paige Larson said.
She said the job action will have a ripple effect: her two clinics will still have overhead expenses to pay, but will have fewer clients.
“[The therapists’] pay is fee-for-service, so if they don’t have a patient coming in, they’re not going to get paid,” she said.
Staff at the clinic also rely on the SeaBus to get to meetings downtown, including one scheduled for Thursday.
“The meeting was set up weeks ago and now it could be in jeopardy because of the strike,” she said.
Over at the Lonsdale Quay, the staff at Cheshire Cheese Restaurant have made plans to carpool.
“About half of our staff take transit. One of them lives in Lynn Valley, he’s going to walk eight kilometres a day, he said, back and forth to work,” manager Luandah Drake said.
Drake was working at the restaurant during the 2001 strike that saw four months of job action. She said she hopes history doesn’t repeat itself.
“That was a terrible time for the Lonsdale Quay,” she said. “It was really long, that was really the problem. This is just three days, hopefully they resolve everything soon.”
Job action for bus drivers and SeaBus staff started on Nov. 1, beginning with bus drivers refusing to wear uniforms and maintenance staff refusing to work overtime.
The overtime ban saw several SeaBus cancellations almost everyday.
As a result, the North Vancouver Chamber said residents and businesses on the North Shore have been the hardest hit by the transit job action so far.
“All the business I’ve spoken to are frustrated that the North Shore is being held hostage,” said Patrick Stafford-Smith, CEO of the chamber.
He said many of the businesses are worried their employees won’t be able to get to work and they won’t have time to prepare for the busy holiday season.
“I’m really concerned about people earning an hourly wage who won’t be earning an income when the strike happens — and I think that’s really unfair. And the small businesses that are not able to function without those staff are really going to hurt,” he said.
Unifor and the Coast Mountain Bus Company are meeting Tuesday to try to reach a deal.
If they can’t come to an agreement by midnight, the full-scale strike will take effect.