Update: BC Port Strike Resumes

July 19, 2023

The tentative four-year deal reached between employers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) last Thursday to end the 13-day strike has been rejected by the ILWU caucus. Thousands of port workers are back on the picket line again as of 4:30 pm Tuesday.

The rejected tentative deal was proposed by a federal mediator at the instruction of Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan. ILWU says “employers have not addressed the cost of living issues” faced by workers in the last few years, while the employers association insists that the mediated agreement included “considerable” wage and benefit hikes, as well as provisions addressing the union’s concerns around outside contracting and worker retention.

The renewed ILWU strike means more than 30 port terminals and other sites across the province are shut down again for an indeterminate time. Strikes disrupting the Port of Vancouver — Canada’s largest — have not lasted more than two weeks since at least the 1980s. The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade estimated more than $9.3 billion of trade has been disrupted since the strike began on July 1.

The Minister of Labour and the Minister of Transportation released a joint statement expressing disappointment. The statement seems to hint at a possible move to introduce back-to-work legislation, which the federal government has been very reluctant to enact.

Canadians, businesses and workers cannot handle any more disruption than has already been caused by the government’s incompetence. We need our ports operating and it’s the government’s job to resolve this situation.