The union representing a majority of Metro Vancouver transit workers wants TransLink to scrap planned layoffs and service cuts as the province begins to lift COVID-19 restrictions.
In April, TransLink issued about 1,500 layoff notices to transit workers, effective May 18.
TransLink and the regional mayors’ council have said the layoffs are necessary as the agency grapples with a pandemic-driven loss of about $75 million in monthly revenue.
But Unifor, which speaks for about 5,000 bus drivers, SeaBus operators and maintenance workers, says the plan has “brought Metro Vancouver to the brink of transit chaos.”
“Reliable and safe public transit should be at the core of any plan to get the economy kick-started,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias in a statement.
TransLink has planned major service reductions, including the suspension of 41 bus routes, which will take effect on May 18, coinciding with the layoffs.
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The union says a robust transit system is necessary for essential service workers commuting to and from work, particularly as the province seeks to reopen its economy.
Stewart said the federal government has been largely silent on support, but that the province has hinted there could be some assistance for the transit system.
“But before we ramp up any service, we’d have to make sure we have the ability to do that,” he said.
Unifor says it wants to sit down with TransLink to work out a plan to maintain the transit system, but won’t do so until the layoffs are rescinded.
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