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

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

Golden’s pool to not open for 2020 season due to COVID

The tough decision was made on June 2 after council was presented with a variety of scenarios

Golden to host “Unity for the People” march in solidarity with George Floyd protests

The march will seek to educate the community on local and national injustices.

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read