Potential picket lines at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal by striking Pacific Coach Lines employees could leave many travellers stranded with no way to reach the mainland, just in time for the holidays.
In a dispute with their company over severance packages, PCL workers voted in favour of taking job action if required.
This vote comes on the heels of a B.C. Ferries decision to not renew PCL’s contract for cross-water bus service back in October. The bus company has provided that service for 30 years and the loss of the contract could lead to layoffs of up to 70 per cent of their workforce.
Whether or not these employees have the right to strike and picket is not being questioned. Employees who have been with the company for over 20 years have reportedly been told they will not be receiving any severance in the event of layoffs.
However, we have to question the validity of picketing B.C. Ferries terminals. This move could potentially force a full shut down of services, as unionized B.C. Ferries employees have the right to not cross picket lines.
While B.C. Ferries has said they will do everything in their power to prevent any service disruptions, we wonder whether this threat of job action is unfairly targeting them.
Punishing B.C. Ferries (and travellers) for their decision to choose a different bid seems misdirected, since B.C. Ferries has no authority over the bus company’s severance packages for laid-off employees.
In this case, strike action would be better directed at the employer, not a third party.
By bringing their fight to someone else’s backyard, or front yard as the case may end up being at the Swartz Bay terminal, they are strong-arming the support of other unions.
It’s a move that won’t likely win much favour with other groups, especially the travelling public who may be forced to unnecessarily spend the holidays without their loved ones.
Is this threat just stirring the pot? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, they are making waves.