Transit Unions Welcome Independent Inquiry into SkyTrain Stoppages Despite TransLink Not Consulting Unions

July 29, 2014

Encourage Inquiry Head to Meet Transit Workers, Ask That Terms of Reference be Broadened

VANCOUVER – Unions representing workers at TransLink and Coast Mountain Bus Company welcome the announcement Monday of an independent inquiry into the two recent major SkyTrain stoppages – despite a lack of consultation by TransLink with the workers who run the system.

And they are calling on inquiry head Gary McNeil to meet with the unions as soon as possible and on TransLink to broaden the terms of reference for the inquiry to ensure all aspects are covered, not ignored.

“It is critical that the inquiry consult the workers who run the transit system in order to understand all of the challenges and problems that need to be fixed,” says Unifor Local 111 President Nathan Woods, representing 3,600 transit operators.  “We regret that TransLink did not talk to us about this inquiry.”

“Translink also needs to broaden the terms of the independent inquiry to ensure that all aspects of the SkyTrain breakdown are investigated – there should be no limitations after such a serious disruption of service,” Woods said.

David Black, President of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees union Local 378, which represents operational, scheduling and administrative workers, and transit security, says front line workers saw the impact of the two shutdowns and rider anger and need to be consulted by the inquiry.

“Members of our unions all witnessed the incredible frustration of people going to and from work and home or elsewhere on SkyTrain only to be delayed for hours and forced to find alternative transportation, not once but twice,” Black said.  “The size and scope of these two major shutdowns demands corrective measures.”

Rob Woods, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4500 President, representing transit supervisors, transit communications supervisors and maintenance supervisors, said the communications system failure in the second event was particularly troubling.

“Riders had no easy way of finding out what happened, how serious it was, what they should do and if alternative transportation was available – that led to many people taking the very dangerous decision to exit stuck SkyTrain cars along the guideway without any assistance – this has to be fixed even before the inquiry reports – we need a backup communications system immediately,” he said.

Joe Elworthy, Unifor 2200 President representing 1,100 mechanics, SeaBus, maintenance and other workers, said TransLink needs to restore public confidence.

“TransLink should welcome a fresh pair of eyes looking at SkyTrain to find ways to improve it for our riders,” said Elworthy.  “This isn’t about fixing blame on anyone, it’s about fixing the system so these problems don’t happen again.

Also joining the call for an independent inquiry are Bob Chitrenky, President of ATU Local 1724, representing handyDART drivers and Geoff Devlin, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 134, representing West Vancouver Blue Bus drivers and mechanics.

The Joint Union Committee represents nearly 7,000 workers in total across the TransLink enterprise system, in all aspects of TransLink’s operations.

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