November 26, 2021
Sisters, Brothers, Comrades,
This has been a difficult time for many of us, regardless of where opinions on the Employer’s COVID policy rest. I have witnessed members who have dedicated more than 45 years to Ferries, people I personally have worked beside for years on deck, catering, and engineering who are no longer in receipt of an income. Their personal medical decisions have conflicted with the requirements of Transport Canada’s Interim Order 7 and/or BCFS COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Policy and have resulted in members being placed on a “Leave Without Pay” (LWOP) by BCFS.
The ongoing discussions with our legal team on the emerging case law around vaccine mandates has resulted in the following actions this week:
On Wednesday, the Union filed a policy grievance against the COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Policy. We assert that the Policy’s blanket application is an unreasonable exercise of management rights and fails to provide measures to mitigate impacts to unvaccinated employees who do not board vessels and/or employees whose principal duties do not require them to board a vessel.
On Friday, the Union filed a group grievance against the “LWOP” on behalf of members who have been forced onto unpaid leave. We assert that the “LWOP” would be reasonably considered a termination and for application of the Employment Standards Act and applicable Collective Agreement articles for the excessive discipline and effective termination.
If you are a member who has been negatively impacted by the BCFS COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccine Policy, you are encouraged to reach out to your Local President or Shop Steward, and discuss the specifics as they relate to you and the possibility of an individual grievance for an individual resolve in addition to the filed group and policy grievances.
Last but certainly not least, for those members who have made a personal choice and are not going to continue their employment with BCFS and cease being a member of the BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union, be that choice one of retirement, or transition to other areas of the industry that do not have a Vaccine Mandate in place. Thank you for your years of membership and the quality of work you have provided on behalf of the membership of the BCFMWU in the worksites we represent across British Columbia.
To view as a pdf: Message from the President – November 26, 2021