Unionized BC Ferries workers to get 7.75% wage increase

Unionized workers at BC Ferries are set to receive a hefty wage increase this year, as their employer and union reached a deal Thursday.

BC Ferries says its general workers will get a one-year 7.75 per cent wage increase, retroactive to Oct. 1, 2023, with some other “special increases” given to licenced mariners who will receive up to an additional 10 per cent.

The increases were made to better reflect the “daily contributions they make and more closely aligning their pay with compensation standards across the industry,” BC Ferries said in a statement.

“We know wages haven’t kept up for our people and that more was needed for us to get back to being an employer of choice. I’m grateful to our people for the patience they demonstrated over the last few months,” said Nicolas Jimenez, president and CEO of BC Ferries.

“Getting to this point has been a long time coming. The offer we put on the table six months ago was a very good one then, and it’s still a very good one today – even more so when you consider it’s a one-year increase. In fact, it’s one of the largest increases in the company’s history and certainly one of the biggest in Canada in recent years for a company our size.

“I’m encouraged to see the arbitration panel fundamentally agree with our overall proposal and I’m happy we can now get on with paying our people more.”

Dean Dobrinsky, acting vice-president of people and safety at BC Ferries, tells CityNews the increase is one of the largest increases in the company’s history.

“The investment in our employees adds some stability to our service,” Dobrinsky said.

“We hope that it’s going to impact recruitment, retention. We believe that for our current employees, they feel that we have provided this investment in them, we hope that they will stay with us and this will inspire other people in the ferry service, which ultimately leads to a more stable ferry service.”

Dobrinsky says the union had negotiated a collective agreement in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. In this agreement, all terms were settled except wages for 2024 and 2025.

“They determined that it would be best, not knowing the environment actually at the front end of COVID, that they would negotiate wages specifically for April 1, 2024, and then again for April 2025.”

The BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union and BC Ferries settled on the deal Thursday after BC Ferries explained it re-opened wage negotiations six months earlier than required.

The ferry services say the wage increase will be in place until March 25, 2025.

CityNews has reached out to the union for comment.

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