An independent arbitrator has found BC Ferries did not have the right to lay off hundreds of employees due to the pandemic. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

BC Ferries wrongfully laid off hundreds of workers at beginning of pandemic

Independent arbitrator finds layoffs breached collective agreement

BC Ferries did not have the right to lay off hundreds of employees due to the pandemic, an independent arbitrator has found.

Employees were notified on April 3 that the company would be temporarily laying off hundreds of employees due to the profound decline in ferry traffic as the pandemic took hold.

The next day, regular and casual employees began to be laid off.

READ ALSO: BC Ferries revenue down $109 million in first quarter of 2020

Within six days, about 425 regular employees and about 690 casual employees were notified of their temporary layoffs. These employees were told that BC Ferries did not know when service levels would go back to normal, but that every effort would be made to recall them “as soon as [BC Ferries] can.”

In the following days, the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union filed a grievance alleging BC Ferries had violated the collective agreement.

“The employer’s decision was unquestionably disruptive to the lives of its employees, denying them pay and their work identity during a time of crisis. The employer’s only justification for taking these extreme measures was to save money,” argued the union.

According to the ferry service’s quarterly report, BC Ferries lost $62 million – a stark contrast to the net earnings of $12.2 million from the same quarter in 2019. Ending June 30, 2020, first-quarter revenue was $137.4 million, down $109 million year over year.

READ ALSO: Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

Starting in May, BC Ferries began to recall some of its employees and by July 2 all regular and casual employees were recalled to work.

Arbitrator John B. Hall found the layoffs breached the collective agreement between BC Ferries and the union. In Hall’s Sept. 28 decision, he noted that the company did not have the right to place regular employees on ‘off duty status’ and that employees should have continued to be paid in accordance with the negotiated salary schedules.

BC Ferries has approximately 4,200 union employees, of those 3,100 are regular and the remaining 1,100 are casual employees. The company also employs about 450 seasonal workers throughout the summer.

Now, determining the remedial consequences such as outstanding wages, benefits and damages will go back to BC Ferries and the union for resolution.

– With files from Nina Grossman


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bc ferry

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

Just Posted

Community Futures North Okanagan hosted free virtual valley-wide seminars during Small Business Week. (Contributed)
Organization equips Okanagan businesses with pandemic tools

Community Futures sees success in its all-virtual Small Business Week seminar series

Dr. Steve Piper, owner of Monashee Health Collective, is leading an applied research project to develop an app that will help health professionals connect with patients in real time. (Contributed).
Okanagan researchers developing app to connect patients with practitioners virtually

The prototype holistic wellness app will be tested and launched over the next six months

Two have been taken to hospital following a vehicle crash north of Vernon on Highway 97 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Crash north of Vernon causes Highway 97 traffic delays

Emergency crews respond to two-vehicle incident near Swan Lake; occupants taken to hospital

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. The British Columbia provincial election will be on Oct. 24. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Greater Vernon Chamber reacts to provincial election

Chamber president congratulates NDP, lists the issues the chamber will advocate for

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
UPDATE: Flames doused for second time at fatal Penticton apartment fire

The Elm Ave. building first caught fire around 4 a.m., killing two people and displacing dozens

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

(Submitted)
Penticton apartment fire claims two lives

An apartment on Elm Avenue went up in flames Tuesday morning

A Summerland woman has set up an online fundraiser to provide backpacks to those being released from correctional facilities.(ca.gofundme.com)
Summerland woman raising money for backpack program

Backpacks will be distributed to those being released from correctional facilities

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
15 cases of COVID-19 tied to Kelowna Francophone school outbreak

Three other schools in Kelowna are also dealing with potential exposure events

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A four-vehicle accident on the Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous destroyed two cars and a section of bridge guardrail but remarkably injured no one. (Sicamous RCMP Image)
Sicamous’ Bruhn Bridge site of two collisions

Although a total of five vehicles were involved, no one was injured

Most Read