Canada port strike resumes as union members reject wage agreement
Excerpted from Reuters.com, By Nia Williams, July 19, 2023
Dock workers at ports along Canada’s Pacific coast rejected on Tuesday a tentative four-year wage deal agreed with their employers last week and returned to the picket line, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said.
The ILWU represents about 7,500 dock workers, who walked off the job on July 1 after failing to reach a new work contract with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA), which represents the companies involved.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the ILWU said its members had voted down the recommended terms of settlement because they did not believe the terms would protect their jobs.
“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 its statement.
Minister of Labor Seamus O’Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said later in a joint statement the BCMEA had accepted the deal in full but ILWU Canada’s leadership decided not to recommend the ratification of the terms to their members.
The ministers said they were looking at all options and would comment further on Wednesday.
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency responsible for the shared stewardship of the Port of Vancouver, said it was disappointed that an agreement had not been reached.
The resumption of the strike could trigger more supply-chain disruptions and risk worsening inflation.
Federal government mediators helped negotiate the deal reached last week.
Pierre Poilievre, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, criticized O’Regan for failing to solve the dispute.
“He claimed he’d gotten a deal to end the strike. Now it’s back on with massive costs to consumers, workers and business,” Poilievre said on Twitter.