Francois Lake ferry staff and the employer WaterBridge have been engaged in a labour dispute since August though they reached a tentative agreement on Oct. 24. (Lakes District News file photo)

Ferry workers union, employer reach tentative deal

The Labour Relations Board (LRB) in Vancouver has ruled that regular sailings of the Francois Lake ferry aren’t essential.

The ruling comes amid some progress in a labour dispute between ferry workers who are members of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) and the employer WaterBridge Equipment.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement on Oct. 24 after two days of negotiations in Kelowna, the BCGEU said in a news release on Oct. 28.

“From day one our members have been focused on getting a collective agreement that addresses recruitment, retention and successorship,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. “This deal does all of that, and that’s what it will take to make these ferries sustainable for the future. I’m very impressed with the hard work from both sides in getting this done.”

The agreement will be reviewed over the next week before there is a vote on ratification.

While the deal is tentative, the LRB’s Oct. 15 decision on essential services stated that if the workers decide to strike only some ferry crossings would be permitted, including sailings for children attending school, ambulances and RCMP vehicles, health care professionals, individuals attending medical appointments and other emergencies.

In late August, 78 per cent of the workers voted in favour of striking.

LOOK BACK: Most Francois Lake ferry staff vote to strike

Eighty staff and auxiliaries work for the ferry service that makes 20 return trips per day between the Northside and Southside of Francois Lake.

Southside residents had hoped the LRB would rule differently, after several people including Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief Corinna Leween spoke to the board in Vancouver and urged it to recognize all sailings as essential for the community.

READ MORE: Ferry service essential to community, labour board hears

If regular sailings of the MV Francois Forester ferry are suspended, many Southside residents worry about the inconvenience of driving more than 150 kilometres around Francois Lake to go to work or go shopping in Burns Lake.

READ MORE: Ferry is essential to the Southside

A similar labour dispute has been affecting ferry services at Kootenay Lake – east of Nelson – since September.

RELATED: Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute goes public

RELATED: Ferry closure Monday afternoon, all day Tuesday

RELATED: Kootenay Ferry to shut down Thursday afternoon

“Some of the residents in the Kootenays have the same concerns. There are alternatives to the ferries but it requires a lot of driving,” said Guy Pocklington, Information Officer with the LRB.

WaterBridge Equipment, the sister company of WaterBridge Steel operates the Francois Lake ferry, which transports hundreds of people and their vehicles across the lake daily.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
Send Blair an email
Like Lakes District News on Facebook

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

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Water recovery team stands down search for missing man in Stellako River

Jason Bouchard was in a boat with a friend that overturned in the river May 16

Canfor announces permanent closure of Isle Pierre Mill

The company also announced curtailments at their pulp mills in Prince George.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation to receive 30 greenhouses from Rio Tinto

With over two months since the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place,… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

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

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

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

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

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

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

Most Read