‘Not going to be tolerated’: BC Ferries workers union says attacks on members increasing

'Not going to be tolerated': BC Ferries workers union says attacks on members increasing

The BC Ferries workers union says attacks on its members are on the rise.

On Monday, a BC Ferries employee pointed out to a member of the public that they could not park in the employee lot at Swartz Bay. In return, the employee’s vehicle was kicked.

It’s just one of the several incidents over the past three weeks of violence directed towards BC Ferries employees, according to Eric McNeely, president of the BC Ferries & Marine Workers Union.

“There’s been a number of incidents recently. There was a spitting incident at Swartz Bay,” recalled McNeely.

“There was also a parking lot incident where someone parked in staff parking, a member of the public. And then, when questioned, ended up making contact with a member of our union and kicking their vehicle.”

In that instance, RCMP attended, but no charges were laid.

On Thanksgiving Monday, a customer who missed the 10 a.m. sailing from Buckley Bay to Denman Island became abusive towards ferry staff.

BC Ferries cancelled the customer’s travel for the day, but RCMP were called when the person refused to leave the terminal.

“Anecdotally, there has been an increase in negative interactions with people travelling,” said McNeely.

“I think some of that frustration stems from waiting longer and longer to get on a vessel. Reservations are hard to get. And service reliability has become a bit of a question mark.”

Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries’ executive director of public affairs, says they are seeing violence directed towards their staff.

“We are seeing people behave inappropriately. And that is just not going to be tolerated,” she said.

“Our employees are entitled to a violence-free workplace. If we need to phone police to intervene, we certainly will. And we do.”

On top of these incidents are reports of staff being spat on and even an assault with a skateboard.

For the public, there is the possibility of a permanent ban. The union would like to see this happen if the violence towards their members ramps up even more.

READ ALSO: BC Ferry to Denman Island departs late due to ‘abusive’ customer

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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