Voting begins on third version of Canadian dockworkers’ agreement

Voting was set to begin yesterday, August 3rd, on a third tentative agreement between ILWU Canada, representing some 7,500 dockworkers on Canada’s Pacific Coast, and the organization representing the nearly 50 employers in the sector.

Federal mediators brought the sides together over the weekend and late on Sunday July 30th the new terms were announced. ILWU Canada is recommending that the members accept.

Voting will run on August 3rd and 4th. The union’s council had rejected the first set of terms and then late last week the union membership voted down the second tentative deal.

A strike in July halted the movement of containers and most goods at more than 30 terminals. Only grain shipments were exempted by law, while passenger ferries and cruise ships were permitted to sail under an agreement between the terminal operators and the union.

Terms of the agreement remain confidential but previously had been reported to provide a compounded wage increase of 19.2% over the life of the four-year agreement and increased retirement payouts. The other issues included restrictions on outsourcing of maintenance work and port automation.

Canada’s main railway networks have said that it will take several weeks to eliminate the backlogs.

If the second union membership vote fails, it was anticipated that the Canadian Industrial Relations Board would impose a cooling-off period.

Under Canada’s labour laws, the union would be required to file a new 72-hour notice for a strike, should the membership reject the deal for a second time.