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Canada port strike resumes as union members reject wage agreement

Posted on July 19, 2023

July 18 (Reuters) – Dock workers at ports along Canada’s Pacific coast rejected on Tuesday a tentative four-year wage deal agreed with their employers last week and returned to the picket line, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said.

The ILWU represents about 7,500 dock workers, who walked off the job on July 1 after failing to reach a new work contract with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA), which represents the companies involved.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the ILWU said its members had voted down the recommended terms of settlement because they did not believe the terms would protect their jobs.

“With the record profits that the BCMEA’s member companies have earned over the last few years the employers have not addressed the cost of living issues that our workers have faced over the last couple of years as all workers have,” the ILWU said in its statement.

Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said later in a joint statement the BCMEA had accepted the deal in full but ILWU Canada’s leadership decided not to recommend the ratification of the terms to their members.

The ministers said they were looking at all options and would comment further on Wednesday.

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency responsible for the shared stewardship of the Port of Vancouver, said it was disappointed that an agreement had not been reached.

The agency added that sustained strikes at the Port of Vancouver would impact more than 115,300 supply-chain jobs that depend on the movement of goods through the port.

The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo.

The strike has upended operations at two of Canada’s three busiest ports, the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert, which are key gateways for exporting natural resources and commodities and bringing in raw materials.

The resumption of the strike could trigger more supply-chain disruptions and risk worsening inflation.

Federal government mediators helped negotiate the deal reached last week.

Pierre Poilievre, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, criticized O’Regan for failing to solve the dispute.

“He claimed he’d gotten a deal to end the strike. Now it’s back on with massive costs to consumers, workers and business,” Poilievre said on Twitter.


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