Canada Line workers reach tentative agreement to keep SkyTrain rolling

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VANCOUVER — The union representing workers on a key commuter link between Richmond and Vancouver says it has reached a tentative agreement with their members' employer.

The British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union announced the deal Tuesday between Canada Line workers and system operator Protrans, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin.

The union says in a statement the deal comes after 13 months without a contract and more than 40 bargaining sessions, including close to 40 hours since Sunday morning.

Union president Stephanie Smith says the goal of members has been to get a fair contract.

Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until members of the bargaining unit vote on it.

In a statement, Protrans said it is "optimistic" a fair agreement has been reached for both sides.

The workers issued 72-hour strike notice last week, backed by a 98 per cent vote in favour of job action.

The notice expired Monday, but the union decided to delay taking any action to continue talks.

Canada Line staff wanted improved sick time and wage parity with SkyTrain workers running the other lines of Metro Vancouver's automated rapid transit system.

TransLink, which was not involved in the dispute but many of its buses connect to the Canada Line, said it was pleased to learn of the tentative agreement.

"I want to thank both parties for working hard to reach this deal," said CEO Kevin Desmond.

"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."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press