Overtime ban by bus drivers begins in Metro Vancouver transit dispute

VANCOUVER — Escalating job action was expected across Metro Vancouver on Friday as Unifor bus drivers planned to stage a one-day overtime ban.

They joined mechanics working for Coast Mountain Bus Co. who have been refusing overtime since Nov. 1.

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Two days of talks collapsed on Thursday between Unifor — which represents bus drivers, mechanics and SeaBus operators — and Coast Mountain, which handles Lower Mainland transit on behalf of TransLink.

The union said Coast Mountain remained unwilling to discuss wages, a key issue in the dispute, while Coast Mountain countered that its proposal is well above increases offered to other public-sector workers in British Columbia.

The breakdown in talks means Unifor has ramped up the overtime ban that has forced cancellation of dozens of SeaBus sailings and delayed or cancelled numerous bus routes since job action began the beginning of the month.

Ten SeaBus sailings between Vancouver and the North Shore were cancelled Friday, and a note on the TransLink website estimated about 10 per cent of bus routes across Greater Vancouver would be affected as drivers refused overtime.

The ban was felt in downtown Vancouver late Thursday when a bus brought down trolley wires at a busy intersection. The crossing was closed until early Friday when maintenance crews were available to begin repairs.

Union officials said Thursday that bus drivers will also refuse overtime on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week if the dispute is not settled.

"Further overtime bans could be repeated each week going forward," the union said in a post on its website.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2019.

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