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BC Ferries ordered to reinstate Queen of the North captain

WorkSafeBC has ordered B.C. Ferry Services Inc. to give the captain who was in charge of the Queen of the North the night it sank his job back.

While the order does not name the worker, B.C. Ferries president and CEO David Hahn acknowledged on CKNW last week that the company has been forced to reinstate Captain Colin Henthorne, who was master of the Queen of the North.

The order follows on a July 21, 2008 decision where “WorkSafeBC found that the employer had taken prohibited discriminatory action against a worker (dismissed the worker, at least in part, for raising occupational health and safety concerns) contrary to section 151 of the Act.”

Section 151 of the Workers Compensation Act protects workers who speak out about health and safety concerns where they work. It includes provisions to prevent an employer from firing a worker to prevent him or her from testifying “in any matter, inquiry or proceeding” on an issue “related to occupational health and safety or occupational environment.”

A spokesperson for WorkSafeBC, Donna Freeman, said she could not provide details about the case beyond what's in the publicly issued order, but that it was not related to the sinking of the Queen of the North.

Spokespeople for B.C. Ferries did not return calls by press time. Nor could Henthorne be reached.

B.C. Ferries must reinstate the worker by May 25, 2009, says the order, which also requires the company to try to reach an agreement on how much money it owes the worker for lost wages, benefits and interest since April 15, 2008.

The company has 90 days from when the order was issued, Feb. 23, 2009, to appeal.

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

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