ILWU Canada strike action continues, further putting B.C. and Canada’s supply chains at risk
ILWU Canada’s strike action has shut down operations at the vast majority of B.C.’s marine terminals for eleven consecutive shifts, damaging supply chains across the country and immediately impacting Canadians and businesses.
The BCMEA was hopeful yesterday’s pause would act as a reset in negotiations. Regrettably, ILWU Canada has not indicated a willingness to modify their position. The BCMEA remains ready to re-engage at a moment’s notice, assuming that ILWU Canada is prepared to put forward a reasonable proposal.
ILWU Canada is attempting to aggressively expand their scope and re-define Regular Maintenance Work far beyond what is set out in the industry-wide agreement, which has been legally well established for decades. Changing this definition would result in immediate and significant impacts to terminal operations. Under the current collective agreement, the ILWU exclusively supplies the labour force, however, it has been consistently unable to fulfill the trades work they have jurisdiction over.
In the last year, there were significant shortages in key trades work. For example, in Vancouver, up to 25% of specific jobs were left unfilled as labour was not sufficiently supplied. On average, of the trades work that the ILWU Canada is exclusively entitled to supply in Vancouver, 17% of jobs went unfilled last year. This lack of labour supply has immediate impacts on terminal productivity as regular maintenance of cargo-moving equipment goes unaddressed and delayed. There is a mutual interest in both Parties working together to resolve the existing labour shortage issue, but ILWU Canada is solely focused on expanding their jurisdiction to other work. The BCMEA continues to make record investments into training and upskilling the workforce including a budgeted $42.5 million in 2023.
We continue to stay in contact with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on next steps.
We recognize the dire impact this ongoing strike is having on Canada’s economy and Canadians – we remain ready to reach a fair and balanced deal so ports can open, and goods can start flowing as soon as possible.
The BCMEA’s continued preference is to negotiate a fair and balanced deal at the table with ILWU Canada. Voluntary mediation-arbitration remains as an option to immediately restore stability to the supply chain.
ILWU Canada and the BCMEA have a shared interest in seeing this resolved in an efficient manner. We are both invested in a stable, reliable waterfront that recognizes the skills of our workforce.
Last updated: July 4, 2023