The ferry is the longest free ferry ride in the world, going from Balfour to Kootenay Bay. Google Maps

UPDATE: Kootenay Lake ferry to be hit by job action Saturday

Full service to return after the long weekend; Glade, Harrop-Procter ferries won’t be affected

Workers on the longest free ferry service in the world will be walking off the job Saturday.

DriveBC issued a notice Thursday morning that “there will be no ferry service at Kootenay Lake due to management-labour dispute starting Saturday, August 31 until further notice.”

“It’s unfortunate it’s come to this, strikes are always tools of last resort. It’s unfortunate that’s where we’re at,” says Stephanie Smith, the president of the BC Government and Service Employees Union.

“But we hope the employer understands the seriousness and commitment and solidarity of our members, and we ask the community to rally around that.”

Smith says the union will shut down the service for all but emergencies over the long weekend, but will resume full service on Tuesday.

“It’s a targeted job action,” she says. “We will resume full service after the long weekend, but will remain in a legal strike position. If we need to withdraw services, however, we are in a position to do that.”

The ferry workers have been in a legal strike position since voting 100 per cent in favour of labour action to press their demands with their employer, Western Pacific Marine.

The 80 members of the BC Government and Service Employees Union Local 2009 are pushing for better wages and working conditions, as well as “to address serious issues of training, retention and recruitment of qualified marine professionals,” the union says.

SEE: Ferry workers could be on strike in West Kootenay before month’s end

“Due to a lack of competitive wages and benefits, and the marine industry is very competitive one, we are unable to recruit and retain staff,” says Smith. “So the future of these ferries is under question, the employer is not investing in a labour force that ensures it will remain viable.”

The Kootenay Lake ferry connects the East Shore of Kootenay Lake with Nelson and points west on Highway 3A. For residents of Crawford Bay, a strike would more than double the one-hour trip to Nelson.

No strike action for Glade, Harrop

The strike does not affect the Glade and Harrop ferries. For both those communities, the ferries offer the only service in and out of town.

Smith says the union won’t be taking any job action in those communities.

“We will be maintaining 100-per-cent services for those,” says Smith. “If there are no road options, we’ll maintain 100-per-cent service.”

The union and employer met last week with the B.C. Labour Relations Board to establish service levels in the event of a strike. Smith says the LRB basically agreed to the union’s request for job action — allowing it on the Kootenay Ferry, while maintaining services at the other locations.

The Arrow Lakes and Adams Lake ferries are also nearing job action, but under a different union local. Smith says they have not heard back from the LRB on what the essential service levels will be for those ferries yet.

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

Just Posted

Snow to continue in Revelstoke

Up to 15 cm expected

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Up to 15 cm of snow coming for Revelstoke

The snow should start tonight and continue through the weekend

Snow bike stunt movie filmed in downtown Revelstoke

The Way Home is an action sport film for Rockstar Energy, Polaris, and C3 Powersports

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Gas drops below a dollar per litre in Penticton

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Pawsative Pups: You have a new puppy, now what?

Lisa Davies is a new columnist for Black Press who writes about dog training

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Sewer service planned for South Okanagan community of Kaleden

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen plans to extend Okanagan Falls system into Kaleden

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Most Read