Friday, March 11, 2016

Coast Guard union takes Marine Communications issues to Ottawa Committee session

Unifor is raising more
concerns over marine
communications in B. C.
Unifor, the union which represents Coast Guard communications workers across Canada added to their information campaign against Coast Guard station closures on Thursday.

Union officials were in Ottawa to present documentation and audio samples of communication issues from new technology at a Coast Guard station in the Arctic service areas, equipment that is similar to that which has been installed at Coast Guard Communications Centres in Prince Rupert and Victoria,.

Appearing as part of the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on Parliament Hill, representatives of the union provided audio selections of radio transmissions from the Iqaluit that they claim highlights the unreliability of the communications system and something that is putting marine safety at risk.

You can listen to the audio archive of that Committee session here.

In their presentation Unifor noted its past concerns over communications issues and other concerns with the Victoria and Prince Rupert stations, the union was making its presentation as part of their ongoing campaign to stop the planned closure of the Marine Traffic and Communications Centre at Comox.

A sample of the garbled Coast Guard Transmissions highlighted by Unifor  can be reviewed below the remainder of their selections can be heard here.

As part of their observations for the committee, the Unifor delegation reinforced their main focus on safety as part of their observation related to the planned closure of the Comox station.

Unifor is demanding a halt to the planned closure of the Comox communications centre. The Comox location does not use the new technology, so it is the only functional redundancy during the ongoing problems in Victoria and Prince Rupert. 

The malfunctioning technology was initially supposed to reduce the number of MCTS centres required on the coast. By monitoring traffic, they are the first line of defense if a crew is in distress or an ecological disaster strikes.

In addition to their concerns over the reliability of the communications equipment, Unifor also noted that both the Prince Rupert and Victoria stations are located in tsunami hazard zones and would require evacuation in the event of any major incident, adding that the Comox base does not face a similar peril and could be staffed for use in the event of a seismic event.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not as of yet, provided any further updates to their information portals related to the Communications issues, or with a detailed response to the Unifor concerns of yesterday.

Coast Guard officials however did contribute to the discussion at the Committee session and disagreed a number of the Unifor concerns, explaining for the Committee members the issues that the considered as they moved forward with their communication plans for the Pacific region.

It's not the first time that Unifor has called attention to Marine Communications on the North Coast, having raised the issue a number of times in the last few years since the Department of Fisheries, which is responsible for the Coast Guard began its plan of consolidating services in Prince Rupert and Victoria.

April 29 2015 -- Communication Workers union raises alarm over Coast Guard communications
August 18 2015 -- Communications Workers Union raise alarms again over Coast Guard Communications problems on North Coast

The Fisheries and Oceans Committee plans further sessions in April to seek out more information related to the work load of the Communication Centres in Victoria and Prince Rupert.

You can review past items of interest involving the Coast Guard on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii from our Emergency Service Archives.

No comments:

Post a Comment