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Translink layoffs risk harming essential service workers

April 20, 2020 - 12:00 AM

April 20, 2020

VANCOUVER—Translink has moved ahead with issuing notice of hundreds of layoffs of front-line transit worker, potentially interfering in the ability of tens of thousands of essential service workers to get to their jobs, says Unifor.

“Public transit is a vital part of Metro Vancouver’s effective response to COVID-19,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We must support essential services workers in every way we can, and that includes getting them to work safely and effectively.”

Unifor says that close to 1,000 transit operators and 200 maintenance staff have received layoff notice effective May 18, 2020. B.C. Transit has not announced any plans to reduce service levels.

Health care workers have already spoke out against transit service cutbacks. Unifor has warned that the existing service levels, with the COVID-19-related capacity regulations, are already proving a challenge for social distancing precautions.

“Maintaining safe interpersonal distance on busses today is a challenge, and it will only get more difficult—or impossible—with fewer busses on the road,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “The federal government and provincial government need get off the sidelines and keep our transit system healthy during the pandemic. Not next month. Not next week. Today.”

Unifor is calling on all levels of government to come together to maintain transit service levels to keep passengers safe and to keep the struggling Metro Vancouver economy moving during an already challenging time.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange interviews via Skype or Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).