Skip to content

Metro Vancouver bus drivers demand lost wages from strike be paid

Buses and the SeaBus are back in service as striking bus supervisors return to work.
Bus supervisors in Metro Vancouver walked off the job on Monday, Jan. 22.

A 48-hour strike action halting the majority of buses in Metro Vancouver will end at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday. 

TransLink shared the news Tuesday afternoon that service will resume on Jan. 24, with full service expected by 5 a.m. 

Strike action started on Monday morning when 180 bus supervisors walked off the job over wage discrepancy between other supervisors in the transit system.

Buses were pulled off routes and the SeaBus was shut down for 48 hours. CUPE Local 4500 and Coast Mountain Bus Company could not reach a deal. 

During the shut down, many people could not get to medical appointments, students couldn’t attend classes and people were not able to get to their jobs. 

SkyTrains were not impacted during the strike action and will be operating on Wednesday.

Drivers lost wages

Transit operators and drivers wrapped up in the transit strike have had to sacrifice wages.

Unifor, the union representing the workers, is demanding compensation for the lost wage; that includes Local 111, which represents more than 4,000 transit operators and Local 2200, which represents 1,100 workers in the trades, support and SeaBus operations.

Lana Payne, Unifor National president, put blame on Coast Mountain Bus Company on Tuesday, saying its refusal to find a solution in the ongoing negotiations with transit supervisors resulted in two days of lost income.

“I have been very clear with our members: they are not going to pay the price for CMBC’s inability to get their house in order,” says Payne. “We encourage CMBC to get back to the bargaining table and find a solution before further disruptions occur.”

Transit operators and maintenance staff are not on strike but could not work when the supervisors walked off the job on Monday.

In a media statement on Tuesday, CMBC president Michael McDaniel said, “If CUPE accepts the same wage increases Unifor already has, there would be no more labour action. The strike would end immediately."

What’s next? 

A stalemate continues with CUPE 4500 spokesperson Liam O’Neill saying if a deal is not reached there will be an "escalation."

The union representing striking bus supervisors in Metro Vancouver has scheduled a meeting to determine if members can picket outside SkyTrain stations.

Glacier Media has confirmed that the BC Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) will meet with CUPE Local 4500 on Monday, Jan. 29.

A TransLink spokesperson says the meeting is expected to take multiple days before a decision could be made. If the Labour Relations Board files in favour of CUPE 4500, then they would have the right to picket at SkyTrain locations.

It is unclear at this point which of Metro Vancouver’s three SkyTrain lines would be affected, as the Expo and Millennium Lines are operated by British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd. and the Canada Line by ProTrans BC on behalf of TransLink; the scope and location of the picketing is up to the union to determine and the BCLRB to approve.