Third tentative deal reached in B.C. port strike

Third tentative deal reached in B.C. port strike
Jul 31, 2023

The Canada Industrial Relations Board helped negotiate the terms

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

More than 7,000 striking dock workers in B.C. could return to work soon after their union and employer association reached a third tentative agreement.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association issued a joint statement on July 30 signaling they’ve reached common ground.

The parties “have concluded a negotiated collective agreement today with the assistance of the Canada Industrial Relations Board,” the statement says. “The Parties are recommending ratification of the collective agreement to the union’s membership and member employers respectively.”

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan used his authority to bring in the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

This board works with federally regulated sectors to ensure “harmonious industrial relations.”

Failure to reach a tentative agreement would’ve seen the board impose a new deal on the parties or impose final binding arbitration to bring the strike to an end.

Since the initial strike started on Canada Day, multiple ag industry groups have raised concerns about how the disruption is affecting the sector.

Nineteen organizations, for example, penned a letter to the prime minister on July 11 explaining that “loss of export sales will have a significant and negative impact effect on our farm families and those employed throughout our supply chain.”

And once the strike does end, it’s unlikely ag products will receive special attention.

Other goods will be handled first, leaving agriculture with further delays, said Ian Chitwood, vice-chair of Alberta Canola.

“The bulk commodities and intermodal transport gets first priority,” he told following the union’s first rejection. “They’re going to try to fix those backlogs first for the manufacturers and retailers. If a ship has to wait it’s going to be a grain ship.”

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