Over 100 members of the grassroots group Our Ferry Matters took part in a unity sailing and rally at the ferry landings in Balfour and Kootenay Bay on Oct. 4.
Our Ferry Matters is calling for three parties – B.C. government, Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) and Western Pacific Marine – to reach an agreement and end the ongoing labour dispute and return to regular ferry service.
Protestors used music and stories to express how the disruption of the ferry service has impacted daily lives, businesses, health care, work, and school.
“We were very happy with the turnout and the support of so many community members,” said Kootenay Lake Chamber of Commerce treasurer Janet Wallace and owner of Barefoot Handweaving in Crawford Bay. “The ongoing uncertainty in ferry scheduling is affecting small businesses, jobs, health care and most aspects of our daily lives. We took a stand for a safe, reliable and sustainable ferry service.”
Ferry workers have been in a legal strike position since voting 100 per cent in favour of labour action to press their demands with Western Pacific Marine in August. Their last five-year contract ended in March.
“This gathering is just the start,” said Gauri Taylor of Yasodhara Ashram on the East Shore. “The group plans to continue to write letters, talk to politicians, and foster solidarity around the issue. We know that unity is what creates change. Communities all around the lake are affected, and we want to work together to keep the momentum going.”