British Columbia longshoremen’s strike enters its third day Ship’s crew

A strike by dockers in British Columbia, Canada, lasted into the third day on Monday, with repercussions that could lead to potential cost hikes for companies that rely on the ports.

The impact is felt most notably in the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert. The strike could have a domino effect on the automotive, container, breakbulk and project cargo industries.

“The strike could have a significant impact on the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, which are key gateways for Canada’s foreign trade, particularly with Asia,” said Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO of Container xChange. “These ports handle a significant portion of Canada’s imports and exports. The disruptions caused by the strike may cause delays, congestion and inefficiencies in cargo transportation, impacting various industries and businesses that depend on the smooth functioning of the supply chain.”

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA), which represents 49 private shoreline employers and operators in British Columbia, was notified of the strike by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada last week, as collective bargaining between the two sides has already concluded were a dead end.

The strike, which began on July 1, follows an expired contract between the ILWU Canada Longshore Local and the BCMEA. Since the previous agreements expired on March 31, 2023, the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement.

The negotiations are for two coast-wide collective agreements, one with the Longshore Locals and one with the Local 514 Ship & Dock Forums, which represent over 7,400 longshore workers and foremen in Canada’s west coast ports.

Talks between the two parties were “temporarily” suspended on Sunday evening and were set to resume on Monday, ILWU Canada said in a statement.

The strike is already affecting ship transit and lay times in the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, where a total of more than 200 ships are in port and dozens more are underway.

“Based on past experience, it is critical for ILWU Canada and BCMEA to engage in constructive dialogue and demonstrate a willingness to address the key issues at hand. Previous labor disputes in the maritime industry have shown that a collaborative approach can lead to mutually beneficial solutions and a return to normal operations,” Roeloffs said.

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