Workers locked out at Port of Vancouver

VANCOUVER (Nov. 8, 1999) — The Port of Vancouver is mired in another labor crisis after employers locked out longshoremen yesterday and freight movement ground to a halt.

The dispute centres on failed negotiations on a labor deal between the B.C. Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union-Canada, whose 4000 members at the port have been without a contract. The union has been in a legal strike position since Oct. 20.

In what they called their final offer, the employers said they would increase wages from the current $25.36 an hour to $27.76 over four years, and boost pension contributions and other benefits. The union rejected the proposal; the lockout began yesterday at 4:30 p.m. local time.

The lockout is expected to force coal to flow through Vancouver’s Westshore Terminals, which has a separate labor agreement, and through non-union Ridley Terminals in Prince Rupert.The movement of grain is protected by federal regulation.

It will also adversely affect trucking companies at the port, according to the British Columbia Trucking Association. “Our member companies tell us that a complete shut down will mean many of them will have to cease operations,” said BCTA president Paul Landry. “We’re talking about hundreds of employees and owner-operators who will be affected.”

The association appealed to federal Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw to intervene and reopen the port.

The lockout is the second labor disruption at the Port of Vancouver in four months. In July, drayage owner-operators staged a four-week protest against low pay and poor working conditions before negotiating an hourly wage and other provisions designed to reduce waiting times at the port.

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