With the busiest time of the year underway for BC Ferries, there’s been a renewed emphasis on ferry employee abuse at the hands of angry passengers.
Heading into the Canada Day long weekend, BC Ferries was warning travellers that with the Queen of Coquitlam out of service the popular Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route would be “extremely busy” because “due to peak season demand, all other major vessels are serving other communities and can’t be redeployed.”
In a June 26 release announcing the anticipated heavy traffic and modified schedule, BC Ferries asked travellers to “please keep in mind that this situation is also challenging for the front line staff and BC Ferries requests that every employee be treated with respect.”
The BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union (BCFMWU) highlighted the same concerns, and launched a campaign and website, also just before the Canada Day long weekend.
The campaign’s key message is “abuse is never ‘part of the job’” and the union called on BC Ferries to enforce a zero tolerance policy for worker abuse, which it said its members face every day, just for doing their job.
In one section of the website the BCFMWU said, “82 per cent of workers surveyed have suffered abuse including threats, harassment, or physical violence from passengers. Over half say that abuse affects their mental health. Worse still, BC Ferries doesn’t always stand up for their workers – in some cases, management even rewards abusive passengers.”
In a written statement for Coast Reporter, BC Ferries said: “BC Ferries has zero tolerance for abuse of its employees. We are committed to providing a safe and respectful workplace. Abusive conduct or comments will not be tolerated and may result in a denial of service.”
The statement also said it has a “Respect in the Workplace” policy and every employee has the right to expect and shall receive fair, courteous and considerate treatment. All employees will be treated with dignity and respect, free of discrimination.
“If an employee raises a concern or a complaint, the matter is to be investigated as fairly, quickly and effectively as possible while maintaining the confidentiality of those concerned as far as this is possible,” the statement said. “On rare occasions, police are called if required.”