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)

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

Questions around rail safety, firefighter safety, cleanup near the rail yards and tracks, whistle cessation, etc were raised during the RDBN meeting with CN. (File photo)
‘Lot of our concerns are still not being heard,’ say RDBN directors on CN’s response

Frustrated over lack of solutions, despite communicating their concerns to CN

Barbara Patrick. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
Former Burns Lake local to play the first Indigenous character in a Hallmark movie

Barbara Patrick, a former LDSS student takes a huge step for the Indigenous community

The Burns Lake RCMP is supportive of having a ticketing bylaw in place even though there would be limitations on what they could ticket on. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake might be getting a ticketing bylaw

Will help extend RCMP’s authority to attend to noise complaints

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read