VANCOUVER, Nov. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - The issue of employee passes was brought into play as a way to redirect attention from the real issues plaguing BC Ferries, that being governance, structure and oversight.
Ferries are the highways of the coastal communities and should be funded in a similar fashion to ensure an equitable and level playing field between all the residents of British Columbia. The cuts as announced will lead to further decline in those economies.
"Along with job loss, children will also be negatively affected as their extracurricular activities are curtailed due to inaccessibility. I can only conclude that when Christie Clark was on the campaign trail championing "family first" this only applies to those families that do not rely on the coastal ferry system." says BC Ferry & Marine Workers' Union President, Chris Abbott.
The seniors' passes are funded by the government. When they travel, BC Ferries is reimbursed just like the medical travel assistance program by the government. The proposed cut to seniors' passes will result in fewer seniors travelling and further shortfalls for BCFS.
"Most people are not aware that our member passes are not free. They are taxed as earned income (a 100% taxable benefit) at the full rate not a discounted rate, just as our members are also taxed on our parking." added Abbott
Many workers receive discounts from their employer such as airline, train, bus employees, and ferry employees across North America. Retailers, automotive dealers and manufacturers give their employees discounts. Some telecommunications employees enjoy discounts of up to 40% on cellular, cable, satellite and internet costs. Financial institutions offer discounted lending rates and no-fee accounts to their employees, all the while enjoying a substantial tax-holiday from the provincial government as most corporations do. Even members of the press use their credentials to access events free of charge.
The assertion that BCFMWU member passes are the cause of the issues at BC Ferries is not correct. It's all due to funding shortfalls and simply rolling ferries back under the Ministry of Transportation would result in cost savings in the tens of millions of dollars annually as a result of the lower borrowing costs associated with being a crown corporation.
The proposed service cuts will do nothing to alleviate the debt burden that BC Ferries is servicing at a much higher rate than is necessary. BCFS operates under a terminally ill business model foisted on the residents of the coastal communities by the Liberal government and its failed Coastal Ferry Act.
The cost of servicing the debt has doubled in the last 10 years from 14% to 28% of the total costs associated with BC Ferries with no end in sight. BC Ferries is only paying interest on that debt, not paying the actual debt down at all.
BCFMWU is calling for a review of the operating costs of each and every route without the down load of administration and a review of the managerial presence. Claire Trevena, MLA, released her report Washington State Fact Finding Tour comparing the numbers quoted in the report, employee to management ratio is 1:40. That is one manager for every forty employees. BCFS has a ratio of one manager per every 6 employees. There are on average 4000 union employees and 600 managers.
Traffic is still declining and further shortfall are inevitable because the Liberal Government's failed strategy has forced BC Ferries to price itself out of business and the debt will increase with a dozen more ships that need to be built in the next 12 to 15 years.
"Until this failed structure is acknowledged and resolved the issues that are plaguing BC Ferries will continue" said Abbott.
Image with caption: "BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union (CNW Group/BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131129_C6539_PHOTO_EN_34155.jpg
SOURCE: BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union
For further information:
Contact: Chris Abbott, Provincial President - 250-716-3454 or 1-800-663-7009