Canada port strikes called off

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Strikes at the Canadian ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert have been called off, putting an end to the threat of multimodal supply chain disruption. 

Over 7,000 dockworkers belonging to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada went on strike at the ports on July 1, after the ILWU failed to reach an agreement with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).

Rob Ashton, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada said in a statement on July 19: “Effective immediately the strike notice dated July 22 for 9:00am has now been removed.”

Ashton did not provide any further detail on why the industrial action was called off.

Ports workers had previously suspended strike action while the ILWU considered settlement terms. However, on July 18 ILWU Canada said its longshore division had “voted down the Mediators Recommended Terms of Settlement”. Port workers then resumed strike action.

Then the following day, before its sudden notice to call of the strike, it said it would reissue its strike notice.

The union stated: “Although the ILWU removed its picket lines voluntarily while it considered the tentative agreement, the BCMEA decided to exploit our good faith move by complaining to the CIRB that the ILWU has commenced a new strike for which 72 hours notice was required.

“The ILWU has followed Canadian labour law which holds that a strike continues from the moment of job action until the ratification of a collective agreement. The CIRB however, did not follow the established cases, and determined that new strike notice was required. The ILWU will appeal the CIRB decision but will respect the ruling and reissue notice.”

The Port of Vancouver also said on July 19: “The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada served a 72-hour strike notice to the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) today, July 19. The notice enables legal strike action to commence effective 0900 PST, Saturday, July 22, 2023.

“The Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) issued Order No.: 1460-NB, which determined that 72-hour strike notice was required for strike activity to recommence. The CIRB declared that an unlawful strike occurred on July 18. ILWU labour is expected to return to work effective 1630 PST, July 19.”

The Airforwarders Association (AfA) previously told Air Cargo News that the strikes could see cargo diverted from sea ports to airports in Canada and the US in an effort by shippers to avoid congestion and delays.

Canada port strikes could see congestion and shift to airfreight

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]