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BC Ferries to cut customer service hours

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.'s customer service centre will be open fewer hours during the higher traffic summer season if planned cuts go ahead.

“The company is saying they're going to change hours of work, but we're still in discussions with the company on that,” said Richard Goode, president of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers' Union. “It'll be less service, I would imagine.”

A B.C. Ferries spokesperson did not return a call by posting time.

Workers in the customer service centre in Victoria provide information and take reservations over the phone. The centre is now open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week.

Starting April 1 the company plans to close it at 8 p.m. on weekdays and at 6 p.m. on the weekend.

Goode said the proposal to close the centre early is related to the recently announced cut of 23 union positions at the provincial government owned private company.

Under the company's agreement with the BCFMWU it has to consult the union before cutting hours, said Goode. The union just got official notice of the plan recently, he said. “We haven't made up our minds exactly what's going to happen,” he said.

The centre remains busy, he said. “We believe they're still getting the same amount of calls.”

The job cuts, along with the earlier announced cut of 35 management positions, have been blamed by the company on the weakening economy and a drop in ferry passenger and vehicle traffic. Said Goode, “I don't see the upturn of ridership for a long time.”

Fares are set to increase on April 1 by 3.74 percent on the major routes and 7.25 percent on other routes.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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