A protester holds a sign at the Kootenay Bay ferry terminal during a rally last week that saw service users urge an end to the labour dispute. Photo submitted

Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute goes public

Western Pacific Marine criticized the union in a statement

The company in charge of running Kootenay Lake ferry has taken a shot across the bow at the union in the middle of labour action.

Western Pacific Marine said in a statement Saturday the BC Government Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) is asking for a pay package “that would make ferry service on Kootenay Lake more costly than the company could sustain.”

The Kootenay Lake ferry, which runs two vessels between the Balfour and Kootenay Bay terminals, has had intermittent service interruptions since late August. The union has said the 80 members of Local 2009 on the ferry route will not work overtime hours during contract talks.

In its statement, Western Pacific Marine said it has offered wage increases of two per cent annually over the next three years, which is in line with a three-year agreement the union signed with the province in April.

“Rather than accept those terms, this local union bargaining unit is asking for salary increases that far exceed that of other current BCGEU agreements and industry standards for these marine positions.”

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith, in an email to the Star, admonished Western Pacific for “bargaining through the media.”

“By pointing out the service disruptions Kootenay Lake Ferry users are currently experiencing, WPM is highlighting the impact of their chronic under-resourcing of the service,” said Smith.

“There are not enough qualified staff to run the ferries so when our members refuse to sacrifice their mental and physical health by working excessive amounts of overtime, the ferries don’t run. That is exactly the point our members have been making throughout the bargaining process.”

Both sides also accused the other of refusing to continue negotiations.

Smith added the union is also currently in similar labour talks with WaterBridge Ferries and Waterbridge Equipment for ferry routes elsewhere in B.C.

“I’m hopeful that WPM will reconsider this attempt at bargaining in the media, follow the example set by WaterBridge Ferries and Waterbridge Equipment and get back to the table,” said Smith.

Related: Ferry workers could be on strike in West Kootenay before month’s end



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

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Nelson hospice starts Walk and Talk group in Lakeside Park

The Walk and Talk Grief Group is offered free to anyone grieving the death of a loved one

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

RDCK to implement new emergency alert notification system

System also includes sends alerts for water advisories

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read