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

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

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

KBFR
Driver taken to hospital after hitting ditch near Genelle

Kootenay Boundary first responders attend single vehicle accident, RCMP investigate

Long-term care staff and physicians from the priority group received their first dose of Moderna vaccine on Friday, Jan. 15, including Dr. Corrine Knox. Photo: Submitted
Moderna vaccine arrives in Trail

Vaccine rollout began in West Kootenay with long term care residents and staff the first recipients

The Trail Curling Club closed its doors for the rest of season in response to an extension of provincial health orders. Photo: submitted.
Trail Curling Club cancels remainder of season

The Trail Curling Club had an emergency meeting last week to deal with the PHO extension

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Volunteer firefighters from Grand Forks Fire/Rescue head towards the scene of fatal car crash near Gibbs Creek Road, below Highway 3, Thursday evening, Jan. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Motorist dies in Highway 3 crash west of Grand Forks

City first responders were called to the scene Thursday evening, Jan. 21

Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram could be playing for Colorado when the NHL resumes play. (Rik Fedyck/file)
Cranbrook product Bowen Byram makes NHL debut with Avalanche

Highly touted prospect marks first pro game following World Junior tournament in Alberta

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read