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)

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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Northern Health announced on Dec. 1 holiday changes to the medical travel bus schedule for December and January 2021. (Photo: supplied)
Holiday schedule changes for Northern Health Connections bus

N.H. announces transportation time changes from Prince Rupert to Prince George

A Water Quality Advisory is still in affect on Dec. 1 in Prince Rupert after being in place for a month. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory still in place for Prince Rupert

High turbidity is creating risky drinking water in Prince Rupert

Pea sized hail rained from the skies in Prince Rupert on Nov. 30 leaving roads covered in a sheet of ice. (Photo; K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Large hail caused icy conditions in Prince Rupert

High wind warnings in effect for North Coast and Haida Gwaii

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

Most Read