Potential Labour Disruption During Vancouver International Boat Show

The BC Marine Trades Association (BCMTA) and Canadian Boat Shows Inc. (CBSI) have notified exhibitors for the upcoming Vancouver International Boat Show of the possibility of a labour dispute during the event. The show is set to take place at BC Place in Vancouver, BC, from February 7 to 11.

Members of the BC Government and Services Employees Union (BCGEU) provided 72-hour strike notice to BC Place on January 25, allowing its membership to be in a legal strike position on or after January 28. The BCGEU set up picket lines on January 28 for a one-day labour disruption at BC Place. It is expected that the picket lines and labour disruption will be extended.

"BCGEU has been without a contact since the fall,' says Linda Waddell, CBSI's Show Director. "Up until last Thursday, our understanding was that they were close to coming to an agreement. Thursday night we were notified that those talks were broken off and indeed that they were going to serve 72-hour strike notice. Both sides want to get this resolved and our indications from the venue are that they are both working towards that. Hopefully, they intend to get a settlement before our show starts to move in next week.'

If the strike continues beyond the opening day of the show, Waddell says BC Place management is working on a plan to assist its clients. "Our understanding is that BC Place has contingency plans that are being developed and it will minimize the disruption to our event as well as other events,' says Waddell.

BCGEU members at BC Place consist of full- and part-time event employees. They include skilled tradespersons, control room and building security, first aid, technicians (employees associated with the set up and removal of equipment and materials for set up of staging of an event), event security, event housekeeping and event hosting.

BCGEU's bargaining group says it attended negotiations with BC Place management on January 22 with a 96 percent strike mandate in hand. However, no deal was reached after three days of negotiation.

"The union doesn't take the decision to strike lightly,' stated the BCGEU on its website after serving strike notice. "The main issues are job security, contracting out of bargaining unit work, scheduling and availability. Monetary issues remain on the table.'

"We are disappointed at this recent development in the bargaining process and remain committed to securing a positive outcome in negotiations with the BCGEU,” said Howard Crosley, General Manager of BC Place. “Our people are an important resource and we hope that ongoing discussions will allow us to reach a solution that meets the needs of both parties.”

BC Place management has reassured CBSI of its ongoing commitment to its clients, and that contingency plans are being developed to minimize disruption to its scheduled events. The BCMTA and CBSI have suggested their exhibitors continue planning for their upcoming participation at the show.  BCMTA and CBSI plan to provide exhibitors regular updates as information becomes available.