Civilian workers at CFB Esquimalt brace for job cuts

Union leaders hope attrition, staffing redistribution cushion blow at base

At least 51 full-time civilian defence jobs at CFB Esquimalt will be eliminated by spring 2015.

Of those, 29 positions will be terminated at the Fleet Maintenance Facility, whose workers maintain five Royal Canadian Navy warships and the submarine, HMCS Victoria.

Another 22 full-time positions filled by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Union of National Defence Employees will be eliminated. The union represents 1,200 operational, technical services and office administration workers at the base, the Rocky Point ammunition depot, a supply depot in Colwood and 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron.

“I think it’s a significant impact to the affected members, of course,” said Mark Miller, B.C. vice-president of the Union of National Defence Employees. “But when you compare the hit that (our union’s workers in) B.C. took in relation to the rest of the country, no, we got off (lightly).”

The elimination of jobs comes on the heels of the federal government’s 2012 budget, announced March 29.

About two weeks ago, CFB Esquimalt officials began informing workers at the Fleet Maintenance Facility that they may be potentially impacted.

Many members of Miller’s union also have not yet been told which positions are being terminated, a point which is impacting morale, he said.

Secrecy around the department’s strategic review and deficit reduction action plan, launched in recent years to identify cost savings, adds to the worry, he said. “(It causes) uncertainty and confusion, but it also keeps the Canadian population in the dark, because no one really understands what the big hit is. I think it’s political spin-doctoring and population manipulation.”

Des Rogers, national president of the Federal Government Dockyard Trade and Labour Council (West), agrees, saying, “There’s a lot of very nervous people out there.”

His membership, which includes about 825 workers at the Fleet Maintenance Facility, 12 at the Rocky Point ammunition depot and about 15 at the Nanoose Bay test range, will suffer the deepest cuts out of about six unions at CFB Esquimalt.

Maintenance facility workers have already felt the sting, Rogers said, of about 175 layoffs of term and casual workers over the past year and a half, as work wrapped up on HMCS Victoria.

“(Workers are) constantly being asked to do more with less,” he said.

“Everybody feels the strain.”

Union leaders hope base officials will move workers whose jobs have been declared surplus into positions they say have been left vacant over the past year at the naval base.

Attrition may also help ease the pain, though that option could create stress for workers nearing retirement.

“Not everybody can afford to retire just because they have their time in,” Rogers said.

Miller worries there may be future rounds of job cuts, though likely not as deep nationally.

The defence department’s strategic review and its deficit reduction action plan speak to the need for future and recurring savings, he said.

“That tells me we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Calls to the Department of National Defence in Ottawa were not returned before press time.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

A cardboard man bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cipher has been placed in a window at the Royal Theatre for at least several days. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Mysterious cardboard figure appears in Victoria’s Royal Theatre window

The identity of the figure, which was moved there amid cleaning, remains unknown

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read