Seed World

B.C. Port Workers Back to Picket Lines

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) internal caucus leadership have rejected the tentative agreement reached on July 13 which have ended the strike at British Columbia’s ports, a July 18 news release from the B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) said. The deal was not voted on by ILWU membership and ILWU told BCMEA it would be striking again as of 4:30 p.m. on July 18.

On July 13 a tentative agreement was reached between both sides. At the time it was expected to put an end to an almost two-week strike which started on July 1 and saw 7,200 port workers at roughly 30 B.C. ports walk off the job. The four-year deal recognized the skills and efforts of B.C.’s waterfront workforce, BCMEA said in a July 13 release.

On June 28, ILWU issued the 72-hour strike notice stating it was seeking a fair deal that respects Longshore workers and that negotiations were ongoing since February.

“We are seeking recognition for the hard work and sacrifices that Longshore Workers made during the pandemic and the extraordinary work that Longshore Locals did in getting workers out to the terminals during the lockdowns,” ILWU President Rob Ashton said in the strike notice release.

In the July 18 new release from BCMEA, the employer noted the deal was reached through a proposed settlement provided by the senior federal mediator, pursuant to the Canadian Minister of Labour’s request under subsection 105 (2) of the Canada Labour Code. Both BCMEA and ILWU recommended ratification of the tentative settlement to their respective memberships, with BCMEA fully ratifying the agreement on July 13.

The proposed four-year collective agreement settlement package included wage hikes and benefits were above the approximately 10 per cent increase received over the past three years, BCMEA said. It also included specific provisions that addressed the union’s concern regarding “contracting out” work and measures to improve training, recruitment and retention of ILWU trades workers now and in the future.

“Clearly this fair and equitable package wasn ‘t enough for the ILWU internal leadership, and they chose to instead remain entrenched in their position with little regard to the lives and jobs they are impacting,” BCMEA said in the release.

The strike has affected shipments from Canada and led to cargo backlogs. On July 11 Nutrien announced it would be curtailing production at its Cory potash mine due to the loss of export capacity through Canpotex’s Neptune terminal because of the strike.