Workers to rally on day six of B.C. port strike, employer seeks binding arbitration

 VANCOUVER — Striking port workers will rally near the Vancouver waterfront to mark their sixth day on the picket line as they seek a new contract with the BC Maritime Employers Association. About 7,400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been off the job since Canada Day to back demands for improved 

VANCOUVER — Striking port workers will rally near the Vancouver waterfront to mark their sixth day on the picket line as they seek a new contract with the BC Maritime Employers Association.

About 7,400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been off the job since Canada Day to back demands for improved wages and provisions against contracting out and automation.

The mid-morning demonstration is organized by the union and billed as a solidarity rally, with members reminded that there is pride, strength and commitment in numbers.

It comes as the employers association, which represents management at more than 30 B.C. ports has said binding arbitration could quickly end the strike.

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan was instead urging the two sides to make use of available mediators and resume negotiations.

O’Regan met with his B.C. counterpart, Labour Minister Harry Bains, on Wednesday to discuss the strike, which has idled Canada’s busiest port, in Vancouver, as well as the third busiest port, in Prince Rupert.

CP Rail, now known as CPKC Ltd., issued temporary embargoes on rail traffic to the Port of Vancouver this week, while officials in Alberta and Saskatchewan have joined with business organizations in B.C. and across Canada calling for federal legislation to end the job action.

“Negotiations are still paused, however, the BCMEA remains ready to re-engage at a moment’s notice, assuming ILWU Canada is prepared to present a reasonable proposal,” the association said in an email Wednesday. 

The strike has potentially disrupted $3.7 billion of cargo, it said.

“Automotive parts, refrigerated food, fertilizer, critical minerals and goods … are not reaching Canadians or our trading partners abroad,” said the association.

Data show the Port of Vancouver handles approximately 142 million tonnes of cargo annually while nearly 25 million tonnes of goods moved through Prince Rupert in 2022.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2023.

The Canadian Press


 

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