The union representing Canada Line employees has reached an agreement with Protrans BC–operator of the Canada Line– and will not proceed with job action. 

After 13 months without a contract and more than 40 bargaining sessions—including close to 40 hours since Sunday morning—members of the B.C. Government & Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) have reached a tentative deal with their employer, Protrans BC. 

“Our members’ goal has always been to get a fair contract at the bargaining table,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith in a news release. “Bargaining isn’t easy at the best of times and bargaining during a pandemic is definitely not the best of times. Our members showed incredible solidarity under extremely challenging circumstances and they got it done.”

Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until members of the bargaining unit have reviewed and voted to ratify the terms.

In a previous interview, Smith told Vancouver Is Awesome that members were prepared to strike if a fair agreement wasn’t reached. However, it is not something they wanted to do. 

“Our goal has always been and always is to get a negotiated settlement,” explains Smith. “The decision to take job action – particularly in the case where it is a disruption – is never one that’s made easily.”

Union members have been without a contract since December 2019 and have been bargaining since February 2020 for a fair agreement. In November, Canada Line workers voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action.

Wage parity with SkyTrain Workers and improvements to sick time 

The BCGEU says that over the past year Canada Line employees have made extraordinary efforts on the front lines to keep transit running during the COVID-19 pandemic. These members were asking for their hard work to be recognized through wage parity with other SkyTrain workers and improvements to sick leave because as the pandemic has boldly highlighted, everyone’s health and well-being depend on workers being able to stay home when they are sick.

“We started bargaining before the pandemic, and the collective agreement is about fairness. So this was about parity with TransLink SkyTrain workers. On average, they earn three per cent more than our members on the Canada Line under this private contractor. That was an issue that our members decided had to be addressed in this round,” Smith explained. 

“The other issue is around sick time. If the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that people need to be able to stay home, not go to work sick, and, in the case of the Canada Line, potentially put the travelling public in danger.”

The BCGEU represents about 180 workers at the Canada Line which is privately operated by Protrans BC Operations Ltd. and owned by the multinational SNC-Lavalin.

On Feb. 1, TransLink cautioned public transit users in Metro Vancouver that a service disruption was possible Monday afternoon on the Canada Line. The BCGEU was in a legal strike position as of 4 p.m. Monday.

TransLink adds that it is “pleased to learn Canada Line operator Protrans and its unionized employees have reached a tentative agreement. Job action has been avoided and Canada Line will continue operating normally.”
“I want to thank both parties for working hard to reach this deal. The Canada Line is a vital service that supports thousands of people who rely on our services for essential travel. I’m happy to see an agreement reached without any impact on our customers during this critical time,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond in a news release.
TransLink would also like to thank its customers for their patience through this matter.

This content was originally published here.