The ferry is the longest free ferry ride in the world, going from Balfour to Kootenay Bay. Google Maps

UPDATE: Kootenay Lake ferry to be hit by job action Saturday

Full service to return after the long weekend; Glade, Harrop-Procter ferries won’t be affected

Workers on the longest free ferry service in the world will be walking off the job Saturday.

DriveBC issued a notice Thursday morning that “there will be no ferry service at Kootenay Lake due to management-labour dispute starting Saturday, August 31 until further notice.”

“It’s unfortunate it’s come to this, strikes are always tools of last resort. It’s unfortunate that’s where we’re at,” says Stephanie Smith, the president of the BC Government and Service Employees Union.

“But we hope the employer understands the seriousness and commitment and solidarity of our members, and we ask the community to rally around that.”

Smith says the union will shut down the service for all but emergencies over the long weekend, but will resume full service on Tuesday.

“It’s a targeted job action,” she says. “We will resume full service after the long weekend, but will remain in a legal strike position. If we need to withdraw services, however, we are in a position to do that.”

The ferry workers have been in a legal strike position since voting 100 per cent in favour of labour action to press their demands with their employer, Western Pacific Marine.

The 80 members of the BC Government and Service Employees Union Local 2009 are pushing for better wages and working conditions, as well as “to address serious issues of training, retention and recruitment of qualified marine professionals,” the union says.

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

“Due to a lack of competitive wages and benefits, and the marine industry is very competitive one, we are unable to recruit and retain staff,” says Smith. “So the future of these ferries is under question, the employer is not investing in a labour force that ensures it will remain viable.”

The Kootenay Lake ferry connects the East Shore of Kootenay Lake with Nelson and points west on Highway 3A. For residents of Crawford Bay, a strike would more than double the one-hour trip to Nelson.

No strike action for Glade, Harrop

The strike does not affect the Glade and Harrop ferries. For both those communities, the ferries offer the only service in and out of town.

Smith says the union won’t be taking any job action in those communities.

“We will be maintaining 100-per-cent services for those,” says Smith. “If there are no road options, we’ll maintain 100-per-cent service.”

The union and employer met last week with the B.C. Labour Relations Board to establish service levels in the event of a strike. Smith says the LRB basically agreed to the union’s request for job action — allowing it on the Kootenay Ferry, while maintaining services at the other locations.

The Arrow Lakes and Adams Lake ferries are also nearing job action, but under a different union local. Smith says they have not heard back from the LRB on what the essential service levels will be for those ferries yet.

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Child care severely lacking in Kaslo, says new study

Report says Kaslo needs 10 times the current number of available spaces

Province offers support to safeguard Kootenay fruit pickers

All seasonal fruit pickers will need to take an online COVID-19 awareness course

Nelson Air Cadets receive promotions and awards

The squadron has been operating virtually since March

LETTER: High Street decision disappointing

From reader Tanya Skok Hobbs

Selkirk College offering employees voluntary resignations

The college is canvassing employees for those who may want some time off or reduced work loads

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

VIDEO: Prince William and Kate chat with B.C. hospital staff about COVID-19

Seven-minute video posted to Youtube on Canada Day

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Most Read