A tentative agreement has been reached in the labor dispute between the ILWU Canada and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA). The B.C. port strike has caused an estimated CAD 9.7 billion disruption in trade since July 1 and, on July 11, Canada’s Minister of Labor, Seamus O’Regan Jr., stepped in.
“Since late April, the BCMEA and the ILWU have been intensively working with federal mediators to try to reach a renewed collective bargaining agreement for their members,” he said. “Today, after eleven days of a work stoppage, I have decided that the difference between the employer’s and the union’s positions is not sufficient to justify a continued work stoppage.”
He said that he had asked that the senior federal mediator send a written recommendation of the terms of settlement to him within 24 hours.
“Once I have received the terms of settlement, I will forward them to the parties and they will have 24 hours to decide whether or not to recommend ratification of the terms to their principals,” said the Labor minister.
That happened and it seems to have worked.
On July 13, the minister, along with Canada’s Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, issued a statement saying: “At 10:20 PDT, Minister O’Regan received notice that both the BCMEA and the ILWU have accepted the Terms of Settlement from federal mediators. The parties have reached a tentative agreement. The parties are finalizing details for the resumption of work at the ports.”
“The scale of this disruption has been significant,” said the statement. “The extent of it has shown just how important the relationship between industry and labor is to our national interest. Our supply chains and our economy depend on it. We do not want to be back here again. Deals like this, made between parties at the collective bargaining table, are the best way to prevent that. They are the best way to preserve the long-term stability of Canada’s economy. But we do not want to be back here again.”
The BCMEA said: “The parties have reached a tentative agreement on a new 4-year deal that recognizes the skills and efforts of B.C.’s waterfront workforce.
“The tentative agreement is subject to ratification by both parties, and subsequently, details of the agreement will not be released at this time.
“In partnership with our member employers, the BCMEA is committed to working closely with ILWU Canada and their Locals and supply chain partners to safely resume operations as soon as possible.”
Longest B.C. Port Strike in 40 Years
In a statement welcoming the tentative deal, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade President and CEO, Bridgitte Anderson, said that the chamber, “welcomes the news that a tentative deal has been reached, signaling the end of the recent B.C. port strike.
“While we are pleased to see this positive development, it will take some time for normal cargo operations to restore and for the economy to recover fully,” Anderson continued. “This is the longest strike we have had in nearly 40 years on the waterfront, and it follows a period of great instability for our supply chains. The 13-day strike has had a significant impact on Canada’s west coast ports and Canadian economy, disrupting an estimated CAD 9.7 billion in trade, as reported by the Board of Trade’s Port Shutdown Calculator estimation tool as of this morning. The consequences of the strike have been felt across various industries nationwide and will continue for some time.
“Looking forward, we need to rebuild our reputation as a stable trading partner and ensure the future resiliency and stability of our supply chain. The road to recovery will require concerted efforts from all stakeholders involved, and industry and government must work together to ensure such disruptions do not happen again in the future. We ask the federal government to explore adding additional tools in their toolkit that can better address labor disputes on the waterfront to avoid further damage to our supply chain.”