Date: Wednesday, June 14, 2023
More than 7,000 terminal cargo loaders at British Columbia's ports have voted overwhelmingly in support of strike action against local maritime employers, although both sides are still negotiating to avoid such an outcome.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada says a vote over the weekend yielded 99.24 per cent support for strike action against the B.C. Maritime Employers Association "if necessary.''
The strike vote gives cargo movers additional leverage in talks with employers, allowing the union to file 72-hour notice for a strike that could begin on June 24 if negotiations do not progress.
The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade issued a statement saying a strike could have serious implications for both the B.C. and Canadian economies, given that supply chains have already suffered major blows from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent climate-related disasters, including catastrophic flooding in 2021.
The president of the board, Bridgitte Anderson, says supply chain stability is "critical to Canada's reputation as a reliable trading partner,'' and all parties involved in the labor negotiations need to come to a "fair resolution'' to avert another disruption.
The two sides are currently in a cooling-off period until June 21, with negotiations scheduled to continue this week after the previous contract expired on March 30.
The union's U.S. counterpart is holding its own talks, leading to port disruptions along the West Coast, including in Los Angeles.
The B.C. Maritime Employers Association's website says the industry contributes $2.7 billion to Canada's GDP and handled roughly 16 per cent of the country's total traded goods, amounting to $180 billion in 2020.