There is no sign of a ceasefire on Canada’s west coast

On the fifth day of port strikes on Canada’s west coast, calls for federal government intervention are growing louder.

Talks between employers in maritime transport and the union involved about maintenance work have come to a standstill, according to both sides.

The Canadian branch of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) started the strike on Saturday. The ILWU’s contract with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) expired at the end of March because the union did not want a situation similar to that on the U.S. West Coast, where contract negotiations lasted more than a year after a previous employment contract is in the first half of the year expired in 2022.

“The main problem preventing the conclusion of a contract is the exclusion of ILWU maintenance work by BCMEA member employers and the refusal of the association and its member companies to agree on a periodic maintenance document that is all but complete, except for one Punishment,” the union claimed in a press release.

“ILWU Canada is attempting to vigorously expand its scope and define regular maintenance far beyond what is stipulated in the industry-wide agreement that has been enshrined in law for decades,” the employers’ association replied.

The government in Ottawa is coming under pressure to act from both exporters and politicians from inland provinces.

Mining Association of Canada (MAC) CEO Pierre Gratton warned, “Canada’s reputation as a trusted producer of these materials is in jeopardy if we cannot rely on our transportation networks to get them to market.”

Canadian manufacturers and exporters said designating ports and rail routes as essential infrastructure and limiting when and where labor and other disruptions can occur would provide manufacturers with the stability they need.

“A strike of this magnitude not only disrupts Canada’s economy, but also damages our reputation in global trade, disrupting already fragile supply chains and putting jobs at risk,” the group said in a statement.

Alberta’s Secretary of Transportation wants the federal government to recall Parliament to consider a return to work bill that would end a strike in British Columbia’s ports.

Transport and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen pointed out that Ottawa used a law in 2021 to end a dockworkers’ strike at the port of Montreal after one day.

In a statement on calls for a return-to-work law, the office of Secretary of Labor Seamus O’Regan reiterated that it “does not look outside the negotiating table because the best deals are made at the negotiating table.”

Related Articles

Back to top button