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

First Energy Metals set to start gold exploration work in the West Kootenay

The work will be conducted at two of its sites near Nakusp and Nelson

Flooding: Why the RDCK ordered hundreds of properties evacuated

All evacuation orders have now been rescinded

No immediate threat of flooding in Nakusp area: RDCK official

High water levels have been reported near Burton and Edgewood last weekend

Nakusp Hot Springs campground opens to RVs today

No tenting will be permitted at the campground at this time

Evacuation orders for Duhamel, Salmo-Ymir and Crawford Creek rescinded

RDCK warns public that streams are still dangerous

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Most Read