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Strike action resumes at B.C. ports after tentative deal rejected.

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Updates on July 31:

Canada's West Coast Port Strike Updates – New Collective Agreement to Be Voted On

BCMEA / ILWU Canada (joint release, Sunday night): ILWU Canada and BCMEA have concluded a negotiated collective agreement with the assistance of the Canada Industrial Relations Board. The parties are recommending ratification of the collective agreement to the union’s membership and member employers, respectively.

BCMEA (Friday): The ILWU Canada voting membership rejected the four-year tentative agreement that was proposed by the senior federal mediator and recommended for ratification by the ILWU Bargaining Committee and their Longshore Caucus. Read more.

Seamus O'Regan, Canada's Minister of Labour: "This state of uncertainty cannot continue. While our B.C. ports are operating right now, we need long-term stability for the many workers and businesses that depend on them. As Minister of Labour, I am using my authorities under Section 107 of the Canada Labour Code to preserve industrial peace. I have directed the Canada Industrial Relations Board to determine whether the union's rejection of the tentative agreement has eliminated the possibility of a negotiated resolution. If that Board determines that to be the case, I have directed them to either impose a new collective agreement on the parties or impose final binding arbitration to resolve outstanding terms of the collective agreement." Read the full statement.

Port of Vancouver: Regular operations at the port continue and recovery plans remain active. In the event that labour disruption occurs, the port authority will reinstate measures to manage vessel arrivals and anchorage assignments to maintain port fluidity and manage anchorage capacity for terminals not affected by labour action.

The B.C. port workers' strike deprived Canadian Pacific Kansas City Ltd. of scores of millions of dollars, its chief marketing officer said, tacking on a costly coda to a tough quarter.

"At this point, we're estimating the strike had a negative impact of about $80 million in revenue, much of which we will work hard to claw back over the remainder of Q3 and Q4," John Brooks told analysts on a conference call Thursday.

The 13-day strike – plus a brief wildcat job action – earlier this month halted operations at most ports along the West Coast. In the first week alone, it depressed the number of containers hauled by Canadian railways to barely half the level reached during the same period in 2022, according to the American Railroad Association.

Update, July 26:

Is the B.C. Port Workers Strike Over? Labour Minister’s Office Hints Yes

Port workers in British Columbia are no longer on strike, the federal labour minister’s office says.

That was the office’s interpretation after the port workers’ union removed its new 72-hour strike notice Wednesday evening hours after it was issued and without explanation, sparking speculation about what will come next in the latest round of strike action.

With no word from either the union or the employer on what was behind the removal, a spokesperson for Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan told Global News the office understands the strike is now over, and hopes the union will ratify the current tentative deal on the table.

Read more in an article from Global News.

Port of Vancouver Operations Update – July 20

No strike notice is currently in place.

Container sector: Regular operations are in effect. As of July 20, eight container vessels are at berth and 11 are awaiting entry into the port’s jurisdiction. For the Container Vessel Line-Up Report that includes vessels at anchor and dwelling outside of port authority jurisdiction, visit the port dashboard.

Update, July 19: When CTV News Vancouver cameras visited the port Wednesday morning, picket lines had been taken down again. Read more here. The original story follows.

Workers at B.C.'s ports were back on the picket line Tuesday afternoon after a tentative deal to end strike action was voted down by union leadership.

The deal was proposed by a mediator after the federal labour minister intervened in an attempt to bring an end to the labour action. It was ratified by the employer on July 13.

In a statement, International Longshore Workers Union Canada says the deal was rejected, giving no indication that it was ever sent to the membership for a vote.

"The ILWU Canada Longshore Caucus does not believe the recommendations had the ability to protect our jobs now or into the future," a media release issued Tuesday says. "Our position since day one has been to protect our jurisdiction and this position has not changed."

The four-year term of the collective agreement was "far too long" and cost of living demands were not met, the statement says by way of explaining the decision.

"We must be able to readdress the uncertainty in the world’s financial markets for our members," it continued.

The BC Maritime Employers Association, in its own statement, slammed the union's decision, saying it simultaneously rejects a fair deal for workers and imperils the Canadian economy.

"ILWU Leadership is choosing to further harm Canada’s economy, international reputation and most importantly, to Canadians, their livelihoods and all those that rely on a stable supply chain," the statement said.

"Clearly this fair and equitable package wasn’t enough for the ILWU internal leadership, and they chose to instead remain entrenched in their position with little regard to the lives and jobs they are impacting."

The deal ended a 13-day work-stoppage that saw 7,400 dock workers walk off the job and stopped billions in goods from flowing into and out of the ports.

Credit: By: Lisa Steacy

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