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

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

The volunteers at the Campbell River Seniors’ Centre have been waiting seven months to welcome people back to the facility, and are happy to have all the necessary safety precautions in place to do so, including a sign-in booth at the entrance for contact tracing requirements. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbel River Mirror
Campbell River Seniors’ Centre re-opens after seven months of COVID closure

‘If we close it again, it’s possible it won’t ever re-open, and the community needs this facility’

Another modular unit is lifted into place on the second floor of the new supportive housing complex being built at 580 Dogwood Street on Thursday this past week. Photo by Cleo Corbett/City of Campbell River
Campbell River’s newest supportive housing facility rises on Dogwood Street

Pre-fab modular construction means the building can go on the foundation in under five days

RCMP remind people to lock their doors after dark. Black Press file photo.
RCMP seeing jump in property crime and unlocked vehicles

Drivers also cautioned to stay aware of changing road conditions

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read