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

COTR Avalanche back in action for 2020

The College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball teams are back in action… Continue reading

RCMP, Conservation officers, locals attempt to save elk in frozen river

Local emergency services personnel teamed up with rural residents to try and… Continue reading

Special prosecutor to review Cranbrook toddler drowning case

A special prosecutor has been appointed to conduct an independent review into… Continue reading

Team Buchy set to represent B.C. at Curling Junior Nationals in Langley

Team Kaila Buchy is off to the Canadian Juniors in Langley this… Continue reading

Letters to the Editor

In gratitude I would like to thank all who supported me in… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

10 B.C. cities break temperature records in winter storm

Quesnel dipped to -41.9 C, breaking a record from 1916

Vancouver Island child struck, pinned under SUV while sledding

Boy suffers serious injuries, no charges laid in incident

Unprepared for chemistry test, B.C. student begs superintendent to call another snow day

The student from West Vancouver promised he would study more, but was distracted by skiing and hot chocolate

Blast of winter continues across B.C., bringing frigid weather and more snow

A number of weather warnings continued Thursday as winter storms continue in B.C.

Over 16,000 people nabbed by RCMP between border crossings in 2019

In 2019, 63,830 claims were filed, up from 55,040 in 2018

Iran must compensate crash victims’ families, Canada-led group agrees

‘We are judging Iran every day, demand by demand,’ says Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne

Most Read