Departure Bay ferry terminal on Sunday, April 5, a day after it was closed for 60 days as part of major service reductions announced by B.C. Ferries. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo will be the community hardest-hit by ferry layoffs, union says

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union looking at its legal options

Nanaimo is a Harbour City and a Hub City, but not to the same extent during a pandemic.

The president of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union said it’s his expectation that Nanaimo will be the area most impacted by B.C. Ferries’ major service reductions announced Friday.

Departure Bay terminal was essentially closed for 60 days, Duke Point’s regular passenger sailings were reduced by half and hundreds of B.C. Ferries workers were temporarily laid off provincewide as of Saturday, April 4. Graeme Johnston, union president, said it’s his understanding that 1,400 ferry workers in B.C. were laid off.

“Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay will be taking the largest portion of the impacts of those layoffs, and I expect Nanaimo will be the most impacted area,” Johnston said.

He noted that B.C. Ferries is Nanaimo’s fifth-largest employer with approximately 700 ferry workers and he thinks “half or more” have been temporarily laid off.

“So the impact of this on the community is pretty staggering,” Johnston said, adding that the union feels B.C. Ferries could have taken advantage of the federal wage subsidy to protect jobs, but didn’t. “Which I think is totally careless and callous towards the people of Nanaimo, let alone my members.”

Johnston said the union was aware that closure of the Departure Bay terminal during the pandemic was “certainly” a possibility, but the union’s director of labour negotiations had been “trying to negotiate a practical outcome with the employer for an alternative arrangement that would fit the situation better than our collective agreement provisions.”

He said the employer pointed to reasons why the collective agreement didn’t apply and instead made an offer Thursday night that the union didn’t feel met members’ needs or represented good-faith negotiations. The next day, the service cuts were announced.

story continues below

“Through this challenging time, our employees have demonstrated courage and determination to support coastal ferry service,” said Mark Collins, B.C. Ferries president and CEO, in a press release. “Unfortunately, these service level reductions will result in temporary layoffs for hundreds of dedicated and loyal employees. Our goal is to keep the temporary layoffs to as short as possible.”

Johnston said he isn’t sure how impacted ferry workers could ever feel trust toward their employer again. In the meantime, the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union is looking at its legal options.

“We are pursuing full legal recourse and are looking to litigation on this matter if we can’t come to a satisfactory result, which, I think, the prospects are dim,” Johnston said.

READ ALSO: No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


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

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

RDN will look at collecting old bins once automated waste collection starts in the fall

Residents outside Nanaimo city limits to see new waste pickup model in October

Lithium-ion battery fire damages suite in Nanaimo

One man displaced from home after battery for radio-controlled toy bursts into flame while charging

Nanaimo pianist and future doctor honoured for ‘excellence in culture’

Devon Joiner is among this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners

Volunteers on Vancouver Island checking in on seniors during pandemic

United Way reports 2,600 phone check-ins and 1,300 ‘virtual visits’

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Beefs & Bouquets, June 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

COVID-19: Closed B.C. businesses allowed to sell liquor stock

Sales allowed to other licensees that can reopen

Trudeau to offer premiers billions to help reopen the economy safely

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Vancouver Island First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Most Read