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B.C.’s re-opening unrealistic with transit layoffs looming

May 7, 2020 - 12:00 AM

May 7, 2020

VICTORIA—The plan to relax COVID-19 restrictions on British Columbia’s economy is incomplete if it doesn’t include restoring public transit service, says Unifor.

“Reliable and safe public transit should be at the core of any plan to get the economy kick-started,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “TransLink has brought Metro Vancouver to the brink of transit chaos with layoff notices effective May 18. Those notices must be rescinded immediately to help transition the Lower Mainland economy back to health.”

On April 20 nearly 1,200 Coast Mountain Bus Company workers received notice of layoff effective May 18. Unifor has been fighting the layoffs, insisting the resulting cuts to transit service will hurt the fight against COVID-19, as thousands of essential services workers rely on public transit to commute to and from work.

“Instead of respecting their employees and communicating well, we’ve seen misinformation and dismissing standard labour code provisions,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s Western Regional Director. “TransLink should rescind the notices and sit down with the union to discuss how we can all work together to maintain the transit system. When the notices are rescinded, we will sit down with them immediately to begin work on a plan.”

Unifor Locals 111 and 2200 charge that the layoff notices have not met the minimum required notice for layoffs under the BC Labour Relations Code and have filed a complaint to the provincial labour relations board. Unifor says that senior management at Coast Mountain Bus Company has moved to punish workers for going to the labour board by withdrawing offers to cover the cost of benefit coverage for the laid off frontline workers.

“When presented with an opportunity to do the right thing, they played games, didn’t communicate well and tried to gut the labour code provisions instead of treating the COVID heroes who maintain the transit system with the respect they deserve,” added McGarrigle.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at or 778-903-6549 (cell).