L-R: Gauri Taylor-Topp, Janet Wallace and Megan Rokeby-Thomas of Our Ferry Matters celebrate the end of Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute. Photo submitted

Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute ends with ratified agreement

The deal was approved by 83 per cent of members

The labour dispute that caused disruptions to the Kootenay Lake ferries for three months is over.

The BC Government and Service Employees Union, which represents 80 members of Local 2009, announced last week it has ratified a new collective agreement with employer Western Pacific Marine.

Union president Stephanie Smith said 83 per cent of members voted in favour of a five-year deal that will eventually achieve wage parity with BC Ferries employees.

“We’re looking at the sustainability of the ferries,” said Smith. “We want to ensure smooth sailing for both our members and the members of the community.”

The agreement, which expires March 2024, also includes improvements to employee benefits, seniority protections, vacation time and premiums.

Restrictions on rehiring retired employees and a plan to phase out temporary employee positions are also part of the new deal. Smith said Western Pacific has committed to training existing employees to fill upcoming vacancies over the next 10 years.

The agreement ends months of scheduling disruptions and heated exchanges between the two sides.

The union walked off the job for three days at the end of August, and then refused to have its workers put in overtime. That meant the MV Osprey 2000 and MV Balfour, which run between the Kootenay Bay and Balfour terminals, were shutting down mid-afternoon throughout the week.

Western Pacific Marine released a statement in October that criticized the union for requesting a pay package “that would make ferry service on Kootenay Lake more costly than the company could sustain.”

Meanwhile, a group called Our Ferry Matters held demonstrations advocating for an end to the labour battle.

Organizer Megan Rokeby-Thomas said in a statement the group is happy the ferry has returned to normal service.

“Our members are thrilled and relieved to know that we now have stability for the long-term on this essential transportation route between Balfour and Kootenay Bay,” said Rokeby-Thomas.

The agreement with Western Pacific is the last of three inland ferry contracts negotiated by the union this year. Smith said she expects the Kootenay Lake agreement will be welcomed by both ferry users and her members.

The new deal also applies to the ferries at Glade and Harrop, which were under an essential services agreement and not affected by job action.

“Our members who work in these communities. They live there. They understand how important these ferries are to the communities,” Smith said. “I think everyone is pretty pleased to have things settled.”



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trust delivers social grants, several in Trail and Rossland

Columbia Basin Trust supports 31 projects with $680,000 in social grants

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Kootenay teams heading for curling provincials

Team Buchy and Team Nichols won the senior playdowns.

Big White to host snowboard World Cup event

Professional snowboarders will race at Big White Ski resort at the end of January

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read