Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Coast long shutdown looms for BC's ports, as employers head towards lockout

Fairview Terminal was operating as normal today, but come Thursday
the situation on the Prince Rupert waterfront and along the rest of the
British Columbia coast could see work come to a standstill

The tensions at the bargaining table could very well take to the docks along the BC coast come Thursday morning, that after the British Columbia Marine Employers Association, which represents the employers of British Columbia's major shipping terminals served lockout notice on the International Longshore Worker's union today.

With the notice, the lockout will go into effect as of 8AM on Thursday, May 30th. Unless the two sides return to the bargaining table and find some common ground.

A statement issued by the employers' association today, makes note of the recent strike action taken on Monday by the ILWU, which while not a full fledged walkout, has according to the BCMEA served to provide disruption to port operations.

The information release also notes that the lockout notice will be in effect for all longshore employees that are covered by the expired BCMEA/ILWU collective agreement, it further advises that the lockout will not include cruise ship operations or those employees required to service grain vessels, that in accordance with Section 87.7 of the Code.

The lockout notice arrives after 17 months of bargaining and will idle some 7,000 longshore workers across the province, it will also have an impact on the Canadian economy and if it lasts for any significant amount of time could also see a migration away from Canadian ports by major shipping lines.

The issue of "technological change" looms largest among the issues between the two sides, one which the union has stated in the past is of concern to workers and the communities in which they live.

The BCMEA also noted in their release that they will be available to meet with both the ILWU and  Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service officials to try and find a negotiated settlement.

With the deadline for the lockout looming large, the first indication for Prince Rupert residents as to the state of negotiations, will be seen on the streets of the downtown core on Thursday morning shortly after 8AM.

If the port is shut down as anticipated, the flow of truck traffic that rumbles along Second Avenue West on a 24 hour basis will disappear from the streets completely; a sign for all that one of the largest employers on the North Coast has entered a period of uncertainty.

For more notes related to the labour issues and dispute see our archive page here.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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