Will parties agree on mediator’s deal that would end B.C. port strike?
Posted July 13, 2023 7:02 am.
Both sides in the ongoing British Columbia port strike will have to decide Thursday whether to accept the terms of a settlement recommended by a federal mediator that would end the 13-day-old industrial action.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada and the B.C. Maritime Employers Association were given 24 hours Wednesday to review the recommendations ordered by federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and decide if the deal is acceptable.
Government sources tell CityNews the recommendations were handed over to the parties Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.
About 7,400 workers have been on strike since July 1, halting shipments in and out of about 30 ports in B.C., including Canada’s largest, the Port of Vancouver.
The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says there are 63,000 shipping containers stuck on vessels waiting at B.C. ports to be unloaded, and that number may balloon to 245,000 if the strike persists to the end of July.
O’Regan has said the gap between the union and the employers’ association is “not sufficient to justify a continued work stoppage.”
Western premiers who were at a meeting of provincial and territorial leaders in Winnipeg this week were unanimous that the dispute needs to be resolved.
The possibility of an agreement to terms comes as business groups across Metro Vancouver say the ongoing B.C. port strike has disrupted nearly $9 billion worth of trade.
That’s according to a Port Shutdown Calculator unveiled by organizations including the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBoT), Canadian Federation of Independent Business, BC Chamber of Commerce, and mining and forestry groups Wednesday, which shows job action has already affected $8.9 billion.
“Every single hour and every single day that this labour dispute goes on, we are putting our international reputation at risk, we are putting jobs at risk, and it’s also hurting our economy,” GVBoT President and CEO Bridgitte Anderson said.
Michael Goehring, president, and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia, says the strike has already had a huge impact on that industry.
“First, the strike is disrupting the inbound delivery of key supplies and materials for our members’ operations. This includes new equipment or other materials for capital projects, and other equipment and materials for the ongoing operations of our mines,” he explained.
“Second, from an export perspective, each mining or smelting operation in B.C. is impacted somewhat differently by the strike due to the factors, such as the commodity being mined, the location of the site, and the transportation mode being used to ship the commodity.”