5 things you need to know about the planned SkyTrain shutdown

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Unless negotiation is successful Monday night, Metro Vancouver will face a SkyTrain shutdown starting at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, December 10. Photo by Dan Toulgoet

Many Metro Vancouver  commuters may be on edge Monday wondering if car-mageddon will kick in Tuesday if there’s a SkyTrain shutdown.

With the union discontinuing media statements and negotiations under a media blackout, The Tri-City News reached out to TransLink to find out what’s going on.

For now, it appears talks are ongoing as both sides in the dispute try to reach an agreement before the union’s deadline strike beginning Tuesday morning.

In its latest press release, CUPE Local 7000 said it is committed to negotiating for a new contract at the bargaining table and reaching a deal with no disruption of service.

However, due to concerns about TransLink statements to the media, the union stated in a press release it will be making no more media statements until further notice.

“If no agreement is reached, job action will begin with a full shutdown from Tuesday through Thursday,” according to a press release.

CUPE Local 7000 represents approximately 900 SkyTrain workers who provide service as SkyTrain attendants and control operators as well as administration, maintenance and technical staff. Its last contract expired Aug. 31. The union is negotiating with the British Columbia Rapid Transit Co.

In its press release, TransLink stated it “remains committed to getting a deal done. We will continue bargaining until the last moment to avoid this unnecessary and disruptive job action.”

The last SkyTrain strike was a single-day shutdown more than 20 years ago.

Additionally, Coast Mountain Bus Company has announced that it will not be increasing bus service in response to the planned strike, citing their “operational constraints and labour considerations.”

Here are five things you need to know based on TransLink’s answers to questions:

1. Are there any talks scheduled today between BCRTC and CUPE 7000?

Yes. Talks will continue as long as needed today (Monday).

2. What is the union is asking for?

We are respecting the process and not talking about the contents of the offer at this stage.

3. Why can’t SkyTrain operate with excluded staff?

While trains are automated, we need staff in the control room telling trains what to do. We can’t operate the system without these people.

4. How will you be communicating a shutdown?

Customers should assume the strike is happening and prepare for it, even if there’s a chance for a last-minute deal. We will send a statement and use social media should job action be averted. We will be sending some info for customers later today. It’s important to note while all other services will be running, there will be no additional bus service. It’s regular operations.

5. What time is the shutdown to take place Tuesday if no agreement is reached?

The shutdown will be effective at the start of the service day. No trains will be leaving the yard Tuesday morning if there’s no deal.

If no agreement is reached, the system-wide shutdown affecting the Millennium and Expo lines (including the Evergreen Extension to Port Moody and Coquitlam) is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 5 a.m. with normal service set to resume by Friday at 5 a.m. Buses, the Canada Line, SeaBus, West Coast Express and HandyDart will not be affected.

With files from Elana Shepert/Vancouver Is Awesome

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