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Vancouver bus strike could affect transit as far away as Victoria if mediation is unsuccessful


Striking Metro Vancouver transit workers are seeking permission from the Labour Relations Board to take their picket lines as far away as Victoria and the Fraser Valley if mediation is unsuccessful, CTV News has learned.

CUPE 4500, which represents about 180 transit supervisors employed by Coast Mountain Bus Company to operate bus and SeaBus service in Metro Vancouver, has a hearing before the LRB scheduled for next week to determine whether it can picket other elements of the region's transit system. 

According to another CUPE local, CUPE 4500 has also filed LRB complaints against other transit providers outside of the TransLink system, including BC Transit.

In a letter to CUPE 561 members – who work for BC Transit contractor First Transit providing bus service in the Fraser Valley and were themselves on strike for much of last year – president Randy Kootte warned that the CUPE 4500 strike could soon affect their region. 

"We have been alerted that CUPE 4500 has filed additional complaints to the labour board, including one against our transit members' employer," reads Kootte's letter, which was shared with CTV News by a recipient.

"If successful, CUPE 4500 seeks to picket at additional sites that will affect CUPE 561 members and transit users in the Fraser Valley. They have also applied to picket BC Transit head office in Victoria."

In an email, CUPE 4500 spokesperson Greg Taylor confirmed the authenticity of Kootte's letter and the accuracy of its contents. He said the union would have no further comment on the matter.

Earlier this week, provincial Labour Minister Harry Bains appointed veteran negotiator Vince Ready as a "special mediator" in the dispute between CUPE 4500 and CMBC. 

Ready will work with the parties for up to six days in hopes of finding a resolution to their dispute. If no agreement is reached, Ready will issue non-binding recommendations on Feb. 2, and the parties will have five days to either accept or reject those terms.

CUPE 4500 has promised a 72-hour withdrawal of its members' labour beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 3 if negotiations with Ready don't result in a deal. 

Whether that strike action shuts down bus and SeaBus – as was the case with their 48-hour strike at the start of this week – or affects the rest of TransLink's system and potentially other regions, remains to be decided by the LRB. Top Stories

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