CWB calls for end to labor dispute (November 01, 2002)

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REGINA, Sask. – The labor dispute involving Port of Vancouver grain handlers hasn’t resulted in a huge backlog of grain yet, however the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) says it could yet pose problems.

The CWB is appealing to the federal government to step in and do “whatever is necessary” to bring an end to the lockout. The government responded by saying it wouldn’t do so yet, as the lockout is not breaking any laws.

With this year’s harvest coming to an end, the CWB says the labor dispute could have devastating effects on the movement of grain. Currently the Prince Rupert port is handling the excess grain shipments, but normally the majority of grain is moved through the Vancouver Port.

“There’s no huge backups so far but once harvest is over, volumes will increase,” says CWB spokeswoman, Louise Waldman.

B.C. farmers, meanwhile, are worried they will have to truck their canola harvests east to Alberta to wait out the labor dispute before they can ultimately send their crops back out west for export. Trucking canola to Alberta costs about $20 per tonne, and Alberta facilities may not be able to handle the excess volume, according to Kelly Kassian, operations manager for Agricore United in Fort St. John, B.C.

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