B.C. Ferries, union extend collective agreement

Labour forecasts are for smooth sailing for the next three years between B.C. Ferries and its unionized workers.

The corporation and B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers Union agreed in February to an extension of its collective agreement to Oct. 31, 2015. The two parties also negotiated wage increases, giving workers a one-per cent raise Oct. 31 this year, 1.5 per cent in April 2013, 1.75 per cent in April 2014 and two per cent in April 2015.

"All the articles and clauses stay the same as the previous agreement, we just attached some wages increases," said Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman.

Richard Goode, union president, said the bargaining unit was apprehensive about the extension, but came up with an agreement that provides modest increases.

“It’s not even going to keep up with inflation,” he said. “But there were no concessions to the company, no clawbacks, and we got a pension plan for our commercial drivers.”

It's the first time in almost 20 years the company and union negotiated a contract without using a third party, Goode said.

“That shows a mature relationship between both parties,” he said. “It gives the company some peace of mind to deal with the business at hand, some stability for our members and is good for the public.”

Marshall said both parties worked hard over several months to get the extension.

“It provides stability for our employees and certainty for the travelling public,” she said.

With labour negotiations scratched off the list, the union gets down to other business at its annual convention starting Sunday (April 15) at the Coast Bastion Inn.

The 150 delegates vote Wednesday (April 18) for the top two candidates for president, first vice-president, second vice-president and secretary treasurer, and those names are put forward to 3,800 provincial members for a mail-in vote.

“We should know by the third week in May who the membership selected for those four positions,” said Goode, who is running for re-election as president. “The new term begins June 1.”

The agenda includes the president’s report, as well as financial, education and labour committee reports.

Guest speakers on Tuesday (April 17) include: provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix; Jim Sinclair, president of the British Columbia Federation of Labour; and James Clancy, president of the National Union of Public and General Employees.

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