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

UPDATED: Hundreds gather to reflect and remember UVic students killed in bus crash

Campus community invited to reflect, support one another

Residents say Monday’s fatal crash in Saanich wasn’t unexpected

Speed has long been a concern for neighbours in the Cumberland and Union roads area

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Reynolds Secondary principal pens letter to parents after student involved in fatal crash

Various supports available to students, staff and community

Oak Bay United preparing entirely new development application

Three scenarios being considered for Granite Street redesign

WATCH: United Way #Drive4Five event launches campaign to raise $5 million

More than 80,000 lives changed last year by the United Way

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Most Read