Ottawa moves to resolve port strike

Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2023
Source: Splash 24/7

Canada’s labour minister Seamus O’Regan yesterday gave a federal mediator 24 hours to send him recommended terms to end the British Columbia port strike which is entering its 12th day with the latest vessel traffic data showing more boxships backing up outside the principle ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert.

O’Regan has already held dialogue with his counterpart Julie Su in the US, seeking advice on how she negotiated a compromise in a similar situation between unions and employers on the US west coast last month.

O’Regan said in a statement issued late Tuesday that the gap between the positions of employers and the port workers union is “not sufficient to justify a continued work stoppage” as a number of premiers of provinces urged the federal government to make a more strident effort to resolve the industrial action.

O’Regan said that once he has received the terms from the mediator, he will forward them to both sides and they will have another 24 hours to decide whether to ratify the principles of the deal.

About 7,400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada have been on strike since July 1, fighting for protections against contracting out and automation, as well as pushing for higher wages.

O’Regan said a good deal is “within reach” for both the union and the BC Maritime Employers Association.

Currently there are four ships outside Prince Rupert port with an average dwell of close to five days. South in Vancouver there are 10 ships waiting with an average dwell of seven days.

Writing on LinkedIn, Lars Jensen, founder of container advisory Vespucci Maritime, warned that shippers will face plenty more supply chain hurdles even if a deal to reopen the ports is struck today.

“Keep in mind that when the strike ends at some point, the railroads will be challenged to handle the sudden influx of the cargo presently stuck on the vessels,” Jensen pointed out.


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