B.C. port strike ends

B.C. port strike ends
Jul 13, 2023

The union and employer reached a tentative four-year agreement

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Goods will start flowing through B.C. ports again as the labour dispute between workers and their union appears to be over.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada and the B.C. Maritime Employers Association reached a tentative four-year agreement on Thursday after a strike that started on Canada Day.

“We must collectively work together to not only restore cargo operations as quickly and safely as possible but to also rebuild the reputation of Canada’s largest gateway and ensure supply chain stability and resilience for the future,” the employers association said in a statement.

Neither side is releasing details of the agreement as it still needs to be ratified.

But the more than 7,000 dock workers represented by the union walked off the job July 1 over issues like cost of living, port automation and outside contracting.

The strike has disrupted billions of dollars in trade.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade launched a Port Shutdown Calculator to put the strike’s effects in real time.

As of 3:00pm ET on Thursday afternoon, the calculator’s number was $9.84 billion and counting.

Reaction to the news of the strike coming to an end is beginning to trickle in.

“This is good news for the Canadian economy,” Troy Sherman, director of government relations with the Canola Council of Canada, said on Twitter. “Glad to see this strike come to an end.”

Some groups, while pleased the strike is over, want assurances this kind of stoppage doesn’t happen again.

The federal government needs to classify ports as essential, said Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

“To ensure our economy is not held hostage by another similar strike in the future, the government should consider making ports an essential service,” he said in a statement. It’s important that the ports are fully operational while new collective bargaining agreements are being negotiated.”

The federal government played a role in the strike coming to an end.

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan tasked a mediator to come up with terms to present to both sides to end the labour dispute.

Minister O’Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra thanked everyone involved for their work to end the strike and insisted this kind of stoppage can’t happen again.

The extent of it has shown just how important the relationship between industry and labour is to our national interest. Our supply chains and our economy depend on it,” they said in a joint statement. “We do not want to be back here again. Deals like this, made between parties at the collective bargaining table, are the best way to prevent that. They are the best way to preserve the long-term stability of Canada’s economy. But we do not want to be back here again.”

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