An independent arbitrator has found BC Ferries did not have the right to lay off hundreds of employees due to the pandemic. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

BC Ferries wrongfully laid off hundreds of workers at beginning of pandemic

Independent arbitrator finds layoffs breached collective agreement

BC Ferries did not have the right to lay off hundreds of employees due to the pandemic, an independent arbitrator has found.

Employees were notified on April 3 that the company would be temporarily laying off hundreds of employees due to the profound decline in ferry traffic as the pandemic took hold.

The next day, regular and casual employees began to be laid off.

READ ALSO: BC Ferries revenue down $109 million in first quarter of 2020

Within six days, about 425 regular employees and about 690 casual employees were notified of their temporary layoffs. These employees were told that BC Ferries did not know when service levels would go back to normal, but that every effort would be made to recall them “as soon as [BC Ferries] can.”

In the following days, the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union filed a grievance alleging BC Ferries had violated the collective agreement.

“The employer’s decision was unquestionably disruptive to the lives of its employees, denying them pay and their work identity during a time of crisis. The employer’s only justification for taking these extreme measures was to save money,” argued the union.

According to the ferry service’s quarterly report, BC Ferries lost $62 million – a stark contrast to the net earnings of $12.2 million from the same quarter in 2019. Ending June 30, 2020, first-quarter revenue was $137.4 million, down $109 million year over year.

READ ALSO: Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

Starting in May, BC Ferries began to recall some of its employees and by July 2 all regular and casual employees were recalled to work.

Arbitrator John B. Hall found the layoffs breached the collective agreement between BC Ferries and the union. In Hall’s Sept. 28 decision, he noted that the company did not have the right to place regular employees on ‘off duty status’ and that employees should have continued to be paid in accordance with the negotiated salary schedules.

BC Ferries has approximately 4,200 union employees, of those 3,100 are regular and the remaining 1,100 are casual employees. The company also employs about 450 seasonal workers throughout the summer.

Now, determining the remedial consequences such as outstanding wages, benefits and damages will go back to BC Ferries and the union for resolution.

– With files from Nina Grossman


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bc ferry

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

Just Posted

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

Katrine Conroy
Katrine Conroy declared winner in Kootenay West

Preliminary results put NDP candidate firmly in the lead.

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

The ‘new normal’ for hockey parents in Chilliwack and elsewhere in B.C., watching their kids from outside of the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack hockey parents petition to be let back in the arena

Refused access due to pandemic protocols, parents are now applying pressure to loosen the rules

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of B.C. girl, 7, by accused mother was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

Neighbourly Northern Flicker and friend drop by for a visit. Miriam Saville photo
Urban wildlife Part V: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser over the spring, summer and fall of 2020. Part V.

Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. money laundering inquiry hears of $800,000 and more in bags, luggage, backpacks

The lottery corporation has said it consistently reported suspicious transactions to Fintrac

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

Most Read