The union representing workers of B.C. Ferries is in B.C. Supreme Court Nov. 27 and 28 seeking the right to strike. (News Bulletin file)

B.C. ferry workers’ union fights for right to strike

Union in Vancouver Nov. 27-28 for B.C. Supreme Court hearing

The union representing workers for B.C. Ferries is before a B.C. Supreme Court judge arguing for the right to strike.

According to B.C. Labour Relations Board documents, the union applied for a review of a November 2016 arbitration in which the arbitrator determined that the union had “contractually agreed not to engage in strike activity during negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.”

Graeme Johnston, B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union president, the union and its legal team are presenting their case to Judge Grace Choi in a judicial review today and tomorrow, Nov. 28-29, in Vancouver.

Johnston said he wouldn’t comment on what was taking place behind court doors, but did say the union is extremely positive it has a winning argument and ferry workers will receive the right to strike in order to have free and fair collective bargaining, something constitutionally guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The union says it is being unfairly denied access to that right through a misinterpretation of the statutory obligations that people are held to under the labour relations code.

“So the Supreme Court of Canada has said that if you’re going to remove the right to strike, it must be done in the most express terms possible, [with] clear language, and it can’t be done by implication and in our case, what the arbitrator ruled and what the board upheld is the removal of our right to strike happened by implication,” Johnston told the News Bulletin.

If the union wins, it won’t be striking in the immediate future, said Johnston. Its current collective agreement expires Nov. 1, 2020 and the period of negotiations begins Aug. 1, 2020.

“Obviously no one ever wants to go on strike, but one thing I’d like to emphasize is that B.C. Ferries, even if the ferry workers do get the right to strike, B.C. Ferries is governed by essential service legislation, so what that means in practice is ferry workers recognize the essential nature of the work that we do and we want to make sure that say your grandmother gets to her hospital appointment or your business continues to run normally, but that you just may not get a hamburger on the ship while you’re going across,” said Johnston.

In a statement, B.C. Ferries said it values the work performed by its employees and respects the collective bargaining process and won’t discuss specifics of labour issues publicly, particularly those before the court.

“B.C. Ferries and the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers Union are addressing a disagreement regarding an article in the collective agreement that refers to a dispute resolution mechanism that has been in place since 2006, which has resulted in no service interruptions to our customers for the past 17 years. We respect the legal process and will let it take its course,” the statement said.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

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

Just Posted

Tofino and Ucluelet’s Top 10 sports and arts stories of 2019

Revisiting the Coast’s best sports and arts newsmakers of the past year.

Rent-It Centre takes over curbside collection contract in Tofino and Ucluelet

Rent It Centre’s bid was $25,865 lower than the only other bidder, SonBird Refuse and Recycling.

Tofino’s first cannabis dispensary opens

“I don’t know where it’s going, but happy how it’s gone so far.”

Tofino welcomes much needed veterinarian to town

West Coast has not had a full-time vet since Dr. Jane Hunt surrendered her licence in 2004.

Looking back on the West Coast’s top 10 news stories

Tofino and Ucluelet’s top headlines of 2019.

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Most Read