Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Lack of "meaningful discussions" takes British Columbia Port Negotiations to a request for a Federal conciliation officer

Activity on the waterfront in Prince Rupert will continue as usual for now, 
However, the next sixty days will determine if that's the case by the time
May 20th comes along on the calendar
(Image from archive of PRPA photos)

Depending on how the next sixty days go, the pace of work on the waterfronts of British Columbia including that of Prince Rupert could see a significant slowdown ahead.

Representatives of the British Columbia Marine Employers Association and those of the International Longshore Workers Union of Canada started talks towards a new contract agreement on February  16th, with the two sides exchanging proposals and a timeline towards further talks.

However in the month that has gone by since that opening session, things do not appear to have moved along with any momentum. 

That at least the view from the ILWU which yesterday saw President Rob Ashton issue a Notice to its Membership, posted to the ILWU website, advising of a Notice of Dispute, which is the first step towards seeking a Federal conciliator to step into the process to help the two sides in negotiations.

That process has up to sixty days to evolve before the public will hear of any progress and in that period the Union has offered up some guidance to its membership towards how the worksite should be approached. 

The employer's bargaining group the BCMEA had less to say about the Notice of Dispute, their statement was one that basically acknowledged that it had been put into motion.

So far, there has been little made public about the themes or outstanding issues of the negotiations and where the challenges have been found to date, other than a glacial pace it would seem.

The BCMEA offers up the bare minimum in public bargaining updates here, the only notice related to the labour issues from the ILWU can be reviewed from their News page from their website here.

The Federal Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan has yet to indicate what steps the federal program will provide towards, for the two sides in the labour dispute. 

In their update for their membership the ILWU did note that the use of a conciliator was in place the last time that the two sides were engaged in the bargaining process.

Watching carefully over the next sixty days will be a large number of Prince Rupert and area residents who make their living off the waterfront. 

As well as the Prince Rupert Port Authority officials and those of the terminals that make for the terminals that are the foundation of the Port's shipping footprint.

The employment that comes out of the port provides for a significant portion of the local economy now and any disruption to that work would bring an impact to the community.

As events evolve over the next sixty days we'll update our notes as warranted.

More notes on Labour themes can be reviewed from our archive page.

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