๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada’s dock workers, employers reach labour deal

By Reuters - July 31, 2023
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Container ships anchor in English Bay before berthing at the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 30, 2023. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Dock workers on Canada’s West Coast and their employers said they reached a new labour agreement, averting an immediate strike, as they sought to end a dispute that has disrupted operations at the country’s busiest ports.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Canada Union (ILWU) and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) are recommending the ratification of the deal, they said in a joint statement late on Sunday. Terms were not disclosed.

The dispute has upended operations at two of Canada’s three busiest ports, the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert, gateways for exporting natural resources and commodities as well as imports

The union, representing about 7,500 dock workers, has agreed not to call a strike until a ratification vote, the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) said on Monday, adding that the vote must be held no later than Friday.

The ILWU has been negotiating a new contract with the BCMEA for months, and disagreements over pay and a proposal to expand the union’s jurisdiction to regular maintenance work on terminals led to a 13-day strike in July.

While the strike ended after an initial tentative agreement was reached, the parties failed to resolve concerns in a binding deal.

“We are hoping that this new offer, a solution that’s on the table, will be accepted,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Hamilton, Ontario, on Monday.

The agreement comes two days after workers voted to reject a previous contract proposal, leading Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan to direct the CIRB to resolve the dispute.

That rejected deal had provided a compounded wage increase of 19.2% and increased retirement payouts in 2026 to C$96,250 ($72,625) for eligible retiring employees, over and above employees’ pension entitlements, according to the employers’ association.

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Angus MacSwan and Cynthia Osterman)