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Union Members Strike at Canadian Ports

Union Members Strike at Canadian Ports

Friday, July 21st, 2023

International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) dock workers went on strike earlier this month after the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) failed to reach a new work contract with them. A tentative four-year wage deal was recently agreed upon by their employers, which was rejected when union members returned to the picket line on July 18.

"With the record profits that the BCMEA's member companies have earned over the last few years, the employers have not addressed the cost of living issues that our workers have faced over the last couple of years as all workers have," the ILWU said in a statement.

According to reporting from Reuters, the ILWU currently represents about 7,500 dock workers. As part of a statement released after the rejection of the deal, the ILWU said its members voted down the recommended terms of the settlement because they believed it would not protect their jobs.

On July 18, dock workers along Canada’s Pacific coast returned to the picket line after rejecting a tentative four-year wage deal agreed upon by their employers

After the rejection, Minister of Labour Seamus O'Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said they were looking at all options.

The ongoing strikes at the Port of Vancouver will impact more than 115,300 supply-chain jobs that depend on goods moving through the port. The Port of Vancouver is Canada's largest port and is the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo.

So far, the strike has impeded operations at not only the Port of Vancouver but the Port of Prince Rupert, which are two of Canada's three business ports. Both locations are vital gateways for exporting natural resources and commodities and bringing raw materials into the country.

Resuming the strike could cause more supply chain disruptions and risk worsening inflation.

We will keep our eyes on the situation as it pertains to shipping activities in the specialty food realm, so stay tuned.