Vanport strike fears waning; port toughens licensing rules

VANCOUVER, B.C. — There’s still no strike action from nearly 500 Vancouver port ship and dock foremen who have been poised to strike since New Year’s Day.

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association said it and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union representing the workers have scheduled a new round of talks for Feb. 12 and 13, reports CP. 

The negotiations are vital, as it’s been said that a walkout by the foremen could trigger labor disruptions by another 5,000 port workers.

The union had set Jan. 2 as a strike date, but agreed to keep workers on the job while negotiations continued.

But even without any action, the port of Vancouver is being affected. Reports suggest that shippers began diverting containers to other regional ports like Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. when talk of labor unrest surfaced in December.

A strike could have a serious impact throughout Canada, and some are calling for the federal government to intervene with back-to-work legislation.

The threat of a strike has already led shippers to divert some of their traffic to U.S. ports.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Container Trucking Association, which threatened to send workers home in January, has also not yet moved to strike.

The union, which along with the CAW Local 2006 represents about 700 independent container haulers in the Lower Mainland, is still reportedly negotiating with carrier companies.

But the VCTA-CAW’s biggest beef is with the port authority, which the union says, is not upholding the rate standard agreement or dispute resolution program which are part of the mandated port licensing system enacted in 2005.

The union seems to have backed off slightly after Port Metro Vancouver and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced last week it would "enhance" the dispute resolution system.

The port promises to step-up its audit process and crack down on carriers found to be undercutting drivers with stiffer penalties and sanctions. Interest will now be charged on all monies owing to independent drivers.


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