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

YEAR IN REVIEW: Ferry strike disrupts communities, achieves gains for union

Our No. 7 story of the year

On the Labour Day long weekend there was no ferry service between Balfour and Kootenay Bay.

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

After the long weekend the ferries resumed sailing, then shut down several times on weekends in October but only for specific sailings, with very little notice to the public.

These intermittent disruptions were the result of an overtime ban imposed by the union while negotiations proceeded.

Residents from the East and West shores formed the organization Our Ferry Matters, which held rallies to protest the interruptions in the ferry service.

“We are coming together to take a stand for a safe, reliable, sustainable ferry service over the long-term,” said Megan Rokeby-Thomas, owner of Ladybug Coffee and an organizer of the rally.

“All our lake communities’ economies are linked, and any disruption to our ferry affects small business and employment on both sides of Kootenay Lake. Lives, jobs, and educations are at risk.”

In early October, Western Marine Pacific publicly stated the wage package the union was demanding would be unaffordable to the company.

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

Each side also accused the other of refusing to continue negotiations. But they returned to the bargaining table in early November and reached an agreement by the end of the month.

The agreement includes provisions similar in principle to the collective agreement between the union and the other two inland ferries employers — WaterBridge Ferries and Waterbridge Equipment. That agreement was overwhelmingly ratified by union members in October.

These provisions included wage parity with BC Ferries within the term of the agreement and a commitment to successor-ship training that will protect existing members.

Related:

• Kootenay Lake ferry to be hit by job action Saturday

• Kootenay residents rally in support of ferry workers

• Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute goes public

• ‘Unity Sailing’ presses for end to ferry dispute

• West Kootenay ferry workers, employer reach settlement



bill.metcalfe@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

UPDATE: Body of Slocan River drowning victim recovered

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

Kaslo council says it was overlooked in long-term care announcement

“We’re fed up … They have ignored every attempt we’ve made to contact them”

Kaslo 2.0: Effort to take the village’s local government online advances

The first step if approved would be setting up a Kaslo Health Hub

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Most Read