BC Ferries workers to receive 7.75 per cent pay increase mid-contract

“We know that our people’s salaries have not kept up,” said BC Ferries CEO Nicolás Jiménez.

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Unionized BC Ferries workers will receive a pay increase of at least 7.75 per cent for one year, a move the ferry company and union hope will better attract and retain workers and help avoid cancellations due to the crew shortage.

About 40 percent of the union’s roughly 4,700 members will also receive a “special raise” pay increase, including some furloughed sailors who would receive up to an additional 10 percent.

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“It’s a step in the right direction, but for a lot of people it won’t be as much as they expected,” said Eric McNeely, president of the BC Marine and Ferry Workers Union.

“But hopefully it will bring some stability back to the ferry system so we don’t have a summer like the last few years.”

In a press release, BC Ferries president Nicolás Jiménez said the agreement was a long time coming.

“We know that our people’s salaries have not kept up and that more was needed to become an employer of choice again,” he said.

“The offer we put on the table six months ago was very good then, and it’s still very good today, even more so considering it’s a one-year increase.”

BC Ferries reopened wage talks with the BC Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union mid-contract last August to address issues of high inflation and wage disparities that the union warned could result in workers being lured away from jobs better paid.

Both parties reached a stalemate and went to arbitration starting in October.

After nine days of hearings in October and February, the panel released its decision Thursday night.

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The agreement, which was reached after arbitration, will apply retroactively to October 1, 2023 and will be in effect until March 31, 2025.

Workers who will receive the additional raise include entry-level workers, ship officers and most trades, with the exception of cooks, commercial drivers, purchasing agents, deckhands and engine room attendants, McNeely said.

Jiménez said the increase is one of the largest in the history of the ferry company and one of the largest in the country in recent years for a company of its size.

In its last fiscal year, BC Ferries reported that 40 per cent of all ferry cancellations were due to staffing shortages.

On Thursday, the company said it hired more than 1,000 new employees in the last year and that cancellations due to staff shortages decreased by 37 percent.

“These new compensation levels should only help continue that trend,” BC Ferries said.

The current five-year collective agreement expires on October 31, 2025 with provisions to reopen wage negotiations in April 2025.

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