Bargaining for B.C. Ferries workers’ pay will start several months earlier than originally planned.
The corporation and B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers Union have agreed to begin wage negotiations in November of this year, rather than in April 2024, said Joy MacPhail, chair of the board of B.C. Ferries.
The current collective agreement, which runs from November 2020 to Oct. 31, 2025, included provisions to reopen wage talks in April 2024 and April 2025.
Union president Eric McNeely, who previously warned that members could be lured away by higher-paying jobs, said this week that moving up wage talks “provides an opportunity to meaningfully address the recruitment and retention needs for B.C. Ferries.”
“I don’t know if it is soon enough. But certainly sooner is better than later, so we are encouraged by that.”
B.C. Ferries has been struggling for months to find enough qualified workers to fill positions.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Nicolas Jimenez, now president and chief executive of ICBC, will become B.C. Ferries’ new president and chief executive as of March 6.
The news brings “some sort of optimism, when you look at the turnaround ICBC saw,” McNeely said.
Jimenez led ICBC through its major transformation into a new no-fault enhanced care auto insurance system.
“We are hopeful that there will be continued positive change with the leadership team,” McNeely said.