A strike by 7,400 Canadian dockworkers against their West Coast ports employers has entered its fifth day as negotiations have stalled.
The International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada’s Longshore Division (ILWU Canada) went on strike Saturday after negotiations with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) failed to reach a new labor contract.
The strike could affect container cargo traffic at two of Canada’s busiest ports in Vancouver and Prince Rupert, key export gateways for the country.
On Tuesday evening, the BCMEA said negotiations with ILWU Canada are currently paused, pending further discussion with the federal mediators.
“The BCMEA was hopeful [Tuesday’s] pause would act as a reset in negotiations,” BCMEA posted on its website. “Regrettably, ILWU Canada has not indicated a willingness to modify their position. The BCMEA remains ready to re-engage at a moment’s notice, assuming that ILWU Canada is prepared to put forward a reasonable proposal.”
ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton also expressed disappointment that labor negotiations had reached an impasse. The union has been negotiating for wage increases, an end to contracting out and job protection against the effects of automation.
“We call on the BCMEA to get back to the table and do the hard work necessary to reach an agreement,” Ashton said in a statement. “If the association will not negotiate, we call on the member employers to negotiate directly with the union. A negotiated settlement is possible, and we are capable of getting the job done.”
Canadian National Railway Co. said the labor dispute could result in increased shipping and consumer costs if it continues.
“A labor disruption can create significant impacts on shippers’ decisions to use Canada’s ports,” spokesperson Jonathan Abecassis said in a statement. “Given the integrated nature of ports and rail corridors, a work stoppage can create disruptions that take weeks or even months to correct.”
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