BC Ferries wants 150 unvaccinated workers back on the job

BC Ferries wants 150 unvaccinated workers back on the job
WatchWhen the federal vaccine mandate came into effect earlier this year, BC Ferries had to place 150 employees on unpaid leave. Six months later, ferry cancellations are an almost daily routine due to staffing shortages. As Mary Griffin reports, the ferry corporation is now hoping those workers want their jobs back.

The BC Ferries sailings are leaving on time, and on schedule at Swartz Bay.

But it was a different picture Sunday with multiple sailings cancelled due to lack of crew.

Staffing shortages are an ongoing issue at the corporation.

An estimated 150 employees were laid off in January because of federal vaccine requirements.

On Tuesday, Omar Alghabra, federal Minister of Transport, announced that those requirements are being suspended.

“I’m very pleased to announce that on June 20th, our government will suspend the requirement to be vaccinated.”

Now the corporation wants its unvaccinated workers to come back.

Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs with BC Ferries, said it will reach out to all employees now on unpaid leave.

“What this means for us is as of June 20th BC Ferries will be suspending its mandatory vaccination policy for our staff. So we will be reaching out to our employees who are currently on leave without pay to seek their intentions of coming back to work with us at BC Ferries,” she said.

Marshall stressed that their return is absolutely critical for BC Ferries.

“There are a number of higher-ranking positions in the 150 employees who are currently on leave without pay.”

For some BC Ferries passengers, the mandates have worked.

“A public service, you working with the public, you really need to be vaccinated. Doesn’t matter where it is.”

“I think it’s positive. But I think it’s been overdue. And I think it’s also unfair that people have lost their jobs as a result due to the vaccines.”

The vaccine mandate is suspended — not cancelled — and could be re-instated if cases rise again, meaning unvaccinated workers could be back on unpaid leave, again.

The BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union issued a statement saying they haven’t received any communication from members who are planning on returning.

“We welcome back our union members to their worksites and hope that the added staffing will reduce significant reservations and cancellations across the ferry system,” the statement reads, adding. “We are currently engaged in discussion with BC Ferries with the goal to facilitate a smooth and people-centric approach to lifting the vaccine mandate.”

An estimated 150 employees with BC Ferries were laid off in January because of federal vaccine requirements. But with those now lifted, BC Ferries wants them back. (CHEK News)

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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