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B.C. ferry union says allowing in-person dining on vessels puts workers at risk

Click to play video: 'Ferry workers question onboard restaurant rules' Ferry workers question onboard restaurant rules
While restaurants across the province have been forced to shut down indoor dining, an exemption to the rule is causing some confusion. BC Ferries is still permitted to serve up meals in their onboard restaurants. Kylie Stanton explains why this has left ferry staff frustrated. – Mar 31, 2021

BC Ferries crew are upset that indoor dining on the fleet’s vessels has been exempted from a new COVID-19 public health order.

Under the order issued Monday, B.C. restaurants must cease all indoor service until April 19, as the province grapples with a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases.

The BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union says an exemption to that order for ferry food services puts its members at risk.

Read more: BC Ferries, union agree to 5-year collective agreement

“It’s a betrayal,” union provincial second vice-president Carl Campbell said.

“It frustrates me that while the company I work for has been given an exception to continue food service work, our ferry workers haven’t been given special consideration for vaccines.”

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Click to play video: 'BC Ferries workers left off COVID-19 vaccine priority list' BC Ferries workers left off COVID-19 vaccine priority list
BC Ferries workers left off COVID-19 vaccine priority list – Mar 19, 2021

Campbell argued that ferry workers provide an essential service, and that if the risk is real for staff in other dining establishments, it also exists for his members.

The union is calling on BC Ferries to either stop foodservice or to arrange vaccination for staff.

In a statement, BC Ferries said its cafeterias would continue to operate with limited seating to ensure customers are physically distanced.

Read more: Coronavirus: BC Ferries to receive bailout in wake of $130M revenue loss

“We are continuing to work with the Province to explore vaccination options for all BC Ferries’ employees,” it added.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said it was important to continue to offer food service on B.C. ferries, noting that some northern routes include sailings in excess of four hours.

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Fleming said takeout was not a possibility on ferries as it is in regular restaurants, and that physical distancing and safety protocols would remain in place to reduce any risk.

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