Victoria Clipper ferry faces Labor Day weekend strike

Written by Nick Blenkey
Victoria Clipper ferry faces Labor Day weekend strike

Victoria Clipper V

Canada’s largest private sector labor union, Unifor, says that its Local 114 members at the Victoria-Seattle ferry service have voted 100% in favor of taking legal strike action on Sunday, September 3 if a fair contract cannot be reached before then.

The Victoria Clipper passenger ferry service between Seattle and Victoria, B.C. is operated by the former Clipper Vacations, which in January, 2016 was acquired by Flensburg, Germany, based ferry operator FRS (Förde Reederei Seetouristik mbH) and, in 2020, was rebranded as FRS Clipper. It operates the service with the high speed passenger catamaran Victoria Clipper V. Built by Norwegian shipbuilder Fjellstrand in 2003, it was transferred to Clipper by FRS in 2017.

“Unless the employer shows up to the bargaining table with a fair offer, the Victoria Clipper will be anchored on one of the busiest tourism weekends of the year,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “Ferry workers deserve a fair contract and will take job action if negotiations continue to stall.”

Unifor says that Clipper workers are seeking to negotiate fair wage increases, adjustments to the scheduling system, and better job security. Local 114 applied for the assistance of a conciliator to help close the gap between the parties, but during the entire 60-day conciliation period, the company only agreed to meet for three days.

“Good jobs and fair wages are pivotal to building a thriving tourism industry,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “The Victoria Clipper is no exception. The company must negotiate a fair contract or risk total service disruption.”

Contract disputes and service disruptions would be new to the Clipper service. “The German company who purchased the service in 2016 has been more difficult to work with,” says Unifor.

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