The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA), which negotiates labour contracts with Canadian longshoremen working at British Columbia ports, including Vancouver and Prince Rupert, has given notice to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) of Canada that it would be locking out longshoremen, commencing 0800 local time last Thursday May 30th.
BCMEA said it had made the announcement “given the strike action that is occurring in the industry”.
BCMEA and the ILWU have been trying to negotiate a new contract for one that expired in March 2018. ILWU members authorized a strike by a large majority in a vote that was held on May 8th and 9th.. The ILWU said that it would take “limited and targeted job action Monday morning at GCT Deltaport and GCT Vanterm”, but that all ports would remain open, no picket lines would go up, and that contract talks would continue.
The two container terminals are operated by GCT Global Container Terminals in the Port of Vancouver.
ILWU Canada president Rob Ashton said that the union was shocked by the BCMEA’s action. He said that the union had taken a moderate approach, such as not working overtime and not reporting for work early, according to a report in American Shipper.
Ashton said that the union wanted to keep cargo moving, and that it recognized the importance of British Columbia ports to the Canadian economy.
BCMEA, which represents 55 waterfront employers, said that it had not arrived lightly at the decision to threaten a lockout, and that it had “followed significant discussion understanding the economic impact this will have on the Canadian economy”.
BCMEA said that “our preference still remains to arrive at a negotiated settlement between the parties and we continue to be committed and available to meet with Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) and ILWU – Canada to achieve this end.”