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

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Commercial fishing concerns over marine protected areas

Fishermen of the Northern Shelf Bioregion seek solutions through consultations

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Haida Gwaii libraries announce their most popular books from the past year

These titles had islanders booking it to the library in 2019

Route 26 reinstated from Skidegate to Alliford Bay

B.C. Ferries service will begin later in January

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

Site of planned Jumbo Valley ski resort to be protected, managed by First Nations

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Most Read