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

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend about 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

New book details 1893 murder in Abbotsford and 2 trials that followed

Farmer John Marshall was found dead on his Sumas Prairie property

Food drive set for Saturday at Lions Club Hall

The Mt. Cheam Lions Club members will be accepting food bank donations from tables set up outside

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

VIDEO: Chilliwack time lapse 2020

A local photographer/videographer has created a vid featuring time-lapse shots of Chilliwack spots.

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

Most Read