Pressure mounts as three-day bus shutdown threatens student’s final week
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
On November 20, Coast Mountain Bus Company announced that a three-day complete bus and SeaBus system shutdown will likely be occurring from November 27 to 29—this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Douglas College has released an official statement and answered frequently asked questions for students concerned about the strike.
Many students are worried about this shutdown because it will be happening during the most pivotal time of the semester—the final week of fall classes. During this time, final assignments are due and final tests will be held.
Students, staff, and faculty are still expected to show up to class and work, but those unable to make it to campus because of the bus strike are recommended to final alternative means of transportation. The college website says faculty are expected to show compassion for students arriving late as a result of the strike.
According to the college website, as of right now no classes will be cancelled because of the strike, but the college will be checking in on the strike progress and reassess should further action need to be taken.
The college recommends finding friends or other students who drive to school to carpool or search for other means of transportation, such as car-share services, or biking if you are close enough to the school. Douglas offers secured bike parking facilities, but students must sign-up in advance by filling out a user agreement and presenting it with student ID at the college bookstore. The college also encourages students to check the website or to follow their social media accounts for updates.
Those who do end up using a car-sharing service to get to school are warned that the New Westminster campus does not have enough parking spots for everyone, should the strike action proceed. Students should try to fill their cars with other New West campus students.
The union demands include better working conditions, more and longer bathroom and eating breaks, and more pay for bus drivers. Unifor is currently asking for more than a 15 percent pay increase formed over four years for drivers and a nearly 17 percent increase over four years for maintenance workers. The Coast Mountain Bus Company has offered an almost 10 percent increase for drivers and 12 percent for maintenance workers, according to the Vancouver Sun.
As per an article by the Daily Hive, as of February 2019 bus driver training wage (first 30 days) starts at $22.83 per hour and goes up to $32.61 per hour after one year of employment, or more than $67,000 annually. Bus drivers also receive pension plans, medical and dental benefits, and paid vacation.
Ben Murphy, TransLink spokesperson, says this strike action is unnecessary and will have a “devastating impact on this region.” He goes onto say, “We condemn this action by the union, and we urge them to return to the bargaining table with more reasonable wage demands.”
Trouble may be on the way for SkyTrain users as well. CUPE 7000, the union that represents 900 Expo and Millennium line SkyTrain workers, say that workers will be holding a strike vote this week with results expected this Thursday.