West Coast Port Strike on Hold

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – The federal government has appointed a mediator to try and settle a labour dispute that threatens to shut down all the ports in British Columbia.

The news came as Truck News was going to press.

Hopes were the mediator could break the impasse in labor negotiations between the Waterfront Foremen Employers Association (WFEA) and 424 foremen represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 514 whose contract expired last December.

WFEA confirmed it would not issue lockout notices for the duration of the mediator’s appointment.

WFEA also asked ILWU Local 514 for a similar undertaking.

The union’s response was to release a statement indicating that it would not issue a 72-hour strike notice until at least August 18.

Negotiations were expected to resume the week of August 18.

A work stoppage in Vancouver, Canada’s biggest port would threaten export-based industries, including crucial farm shipments to Asia.

The Vancouver Port Authority warned companies that rely heavily on overseas shipping that the dispute could shut down all traffic at ports on Canada’s West Coast, including Vancouver, the Fraser River, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island and Delta.

The two sides couldn’t agree on a number of non-monetary issues, such as work hours, recruitment, leaves of absence, retraining for laid-off foremen and control over the timing of vacations.

Most of the monetary issues, however, had already been resolved, including a 12.8 per cent wage increase over 51 months, plus increases in pension contributions, health and welfare and their employers’ benefits and retiring allowances, according to a Vancouver Province newspaper report.

The average dock foreman in B.C. earned $57 an hour last year, or $150,594 in wages and benefits. The top 25 per cent earned $185,000.

According to the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, the impasse “defies conventional logic.

“After all, how is it possible that a small group of some 500 people can potentially hijack Canada’s economy?” read a members only newsletter.

“…It virtually boggles one’s mind to read that the top 25% employed foremen enjoy a wage and benefit package of some 185K yearly!

“That such people even have the audacity to threaten a walkout over comparatively minor labour and efficiency rules is beyond us mere mortals’ comprehension.”

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Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

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