West Vancouver’s Blue Bus workers vote 96% in favour of a strike

Blue Bus workers in West Vancouver, B.C., have voted in favour of a strike after ongoing contract negotiations with the district failed.

The strike vote by members of ATU Local 134, which includes around 150 transit operators, mechanics and service workers, passed with 96 per cent voting in favour.

“This decisive action underscores the urgency of their demands and their readiness to strike if necessary,” said the union, in a post on X.

The union now has the capacity to serve a 72-hour strike notice ahead of any planned job action.

Blue Bus is a sub-contractor of TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transit authority, and serves West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver and Lions Bay.

Cornel Neagu, president of ATU Local 134, says union leaders have been in contract negotiations with the employer since early December, but the two parties have failed to settle on a new collective agreement.

He says the District of West Vancouver scheduled last-minute negotiations for next Monday after the union announced its intention to hold a strike vote.

Neagu says his team will return to the bargaining table, but warns that if a new tentative agreement is not reached by the end of Wednesday, the union will serve the 72-hour strike notice on Thursday.

“We are at this breaking point now. We have no option. There is nothing else we can do,” said Neagu.

The exterior of a building.
The District of West Vancouver says it hopes the union will avoid any job action that affects the public. (Google Maps)

Conditions, benefits

Neagu says the contract negotiations are focused on working conditions and benefits, not pay.

He wants Blue Bus workers’ conditions to equal the conditions offered by Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC), which operates bus transit for the rest of Metro Vancouver.

Among their demands are guaranteed five-minute breaks, known as recovery time, after the completion of a route so drivers can use the bathroom or stretch. It’s standard at CMBC but not at Blue Bus, he said.

“Our drivers are required to drive around the clock without recovery time. We have drivers who aren’t able to go use the bathroom,” said Neagu.

“It’s inhuman. We cannot work like this.”

He said the union is also negotiating for an improved long-term disability plan.

Before Tuesday’s vote, the district said in a statement it was disappointed by the union’s latest step, adding that the two parties have reached common ground on many issues.

“The district remains committed to serving the community and all of those who rely on West Vancouver transit, and still believes the parties can reach a deal and avert job action at the scheduled bargaining dates next week,” it said.

Neagu says strike action would begin with an overtime ban and the option for members not to wear uniforms.

Job action would gradually increase toward a full strike, he added.

The district says it’s hopeful the union will “hold off on any job action that would inconvenience the public with an impact to service.”


Posted in CBC