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Port employers, union urged to return to bargaining table

Prolonged lockout would halt supply chain, damage economy
(via Rob Kruyt)

The union and employers association serving Canada’s West Coast ports were being urged to return to the bargaining table ahead of a threatened industry lockout Thursday morning.

However, both union and industry sources told Business in Vancouver they believed both sides were back at the table and hoped for a settlement within a week.

Shippers and academics warned Wednesday that a prolonged dispute at ports up and down the coast and on Vancouver Island would severely disrupt supply chains, strangle shipping capacity, back up goods and damage the national economy.

The BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) said May 28 it would lock out longshoremen in B.C. ports effective Thursday, May 30.

The notice came just two days after the start of what the union called limited job action, which includes a ban on overtime.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) was ready for a full walkout at 7 a.m. Monday, but instead instituted a ban on overtime and other actions without picket lines at GCT Global Container Terminals’ Vanterm and GCT Deltaport facilities in the Vancouver area.

ILWU president Rob Ashton’s voicemail was full and could not be contacted.

The lockout, however, affects all ports in Canada's Asia Pacific Gateway – including the private, northern facility in Stewart. The lockout will not include cruise ship operations or employees required to service grain vessels.

The association said a negotiated settlement is preferred and is committed to being available to meet with federal mediators.

Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier Media