Job action affects west coast container terminals

Workers at container terminals on Canada’s West Coast have begun limited job action in hopes of pressuring their employer to settle a new collective labour agreement.

Targeted job action began at 7 a.m. May 27 at Global Container Terminal’s Deltaport and Vanterm container terminals, according to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — Canada (ILWU).

Union officials stressed however, that the ports would remain open and that picket lines will not go up, as labour negotiations continue.

“Contrary to comments made … all terminals will remain open for business and ILWU-Canada and its locals will not put up picket lines at this time,” said ILWU-Canada president Rob Ashton.

“Our goal is to keep the ports open with minimal disruption to trade.”

ILWU negotiators have been bargaining with the B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) for more than a year.

The previous eight-year contract between the two organizations expired March 31, 2018.

Less than a month ago, workers represented by ILWU-Canada voted 98.4 percent in favour of strike action, if necessary.

About 2,400 workers were eligible to cast ballots.

The union represents about 6,000 full-time and casual workers at union locals in Vancouver, New Westminster-Surrey, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island and Stewart.

Negotiations between the ILWU and BCMEA affect workers at all west coast container terminals and some bulk export terminals, including Fibreco.

Workers at grain-only export terminals on the West Coast are covered by a different contract and are not affected.

In a recent interview, Ashton said the results of the May 2019 strike vote give the ILWU bargaining committee the authority for strike action with 72 hours notice.

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