Canadian Manufacturing

Transit lay-offs unnecessary and reckless: Unifor

Translink's threats to cut transit staff and service would do more harm than good amid COVID-19, says Unifor

April 17, 2020  by CM Staff

According to Unifor, Translink’s threats to cut transit operator staffing levels and transit service is a move that would do more harm than good during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Tens of thousands of essential services workers rely on transit to get to work,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president in a prepared statement on April 16. “Cutting transit service would make life even more difficult for working COVID-19 heroes, and ultimately the people they have been dutifully serving.”

The lay-off threats from Translink has Unifor concerned about more crowding, making social distancing on transit more difficult and hinder the commutes of essential services workers.

B.C. Transit has not announced any plans to reduce service levels.


Unifor called on all levels of government on April 16 to come together to maintain transit service levels to keep passengers safe and to keep the Metro Vancouver economy moving.

“Our elected leaders must sort it out and get it done. All jurisdictions have a role to play to maintain regional transit levels,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western regional director in a company statement. “Translink shouldn’t treat the public like guinea pigs in a budget experiment.”

McGarrigle also said that in many lower wage essential service workplaces such as retail and cleaning, women and workers of colour are over-represented.

The union also said that pass-ups resulting from COVID-19 precautions that reduce bus capacity are already leading to social distancing violations and abuse of transit operators.

“When you’ve been passed up two or three times, you’re going to fight your way on to the next bus, no matter the recommended distancing requirements,” said Balbir Mann, Unifor local 111 president, in a statement to represent transit operators. “Many passengers are taking out their frustration on transit operators.”

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