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

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Hwy 3 to close for avalanche control on Jan. 19

The road is expected to be closed from noon to 3 p.m.

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

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.

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read