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Union, employer reach tentative 4-year deal to end B.C. port strike

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The 13-day BC port strike appears to have ended after the Canadian International Ports and Warehouses Association and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association agreed to a four-year interim contract on Thursday morning, the parties confirmed.

According to a trade union statementthe agreement was signed just 10 minutes before the 10:30 a.m. Pacific time deadline to consider settlement terms recommended by a federal arbitrator.

The BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) has announced that work will resume on Thursday at 4:30 pm PT shift.

Details of the terms have not been made public as the deal is still subject to ratification by both sides, the people said. Statement from BCMEA.

“BCMEA recognizes and regrets the significant impact this labor disruption has had on the economy, businesses, workers, customers and ultimately all Canadians,” it said in a statement.

“We must work together to not only restore cargo operations safely as soon as possible, but also rebuild the reputation of Canada’s largest gateway and ensure supply chain stability and future resilience.” it won’t.”

About 7,400 workers have been on strike since July 1, blocking access to about 30 ports in British Columbia, including Canada’s largest port, Vancouver.

According to the Greater Vancouver Trade Commission, there are 63,000 shipping containers stuck on ships waiting to be unloaded at British Columbia ports, with 245,000 if the strike continues through the end of July. It may expand individually.

Labor Minister Seamus Oregan and Transport Minister Omar Al-Ghabra issued a joint statement applauding the news of the interim agreement and thanking both sides for their negotiations.

“The scale of this disruption is significant. It shows how important the relationship between industry and labor is to our national interests. We don’t want to go back here again,” the minister said.

Oregan ordered mediators earlier this week to present the terms of the settlement, saying the deadlocked negotiation gap “is not enough to justify a continued work stoppage.”

Striking dockworkers at the Port of BC have demolished temporary shelters in Vancouver after learning a tentative agreement had been reached after a 13-day shutdown. July 13, 2023. (Wildinet Paul/Canada Radio)

The business group expressed relief at the news, but said it hoped action would be taken to prevent similar disruptions in the future.

The Federation of Independent Businesses of Canada issued a statement saying it would take months to undo supply chain disruptions caused by the strike. The group called on the federal government to consider making ports an essential service before the next labor dispute erupts.

Greater Vancouver Trade Commission Chairman Bridget Anderson has urged Ottawa to “consider adding tools to its toolkit” to deal with future labor disputes.

“The 13-day strike has had a significant impact on Canadian West Coast ports and the Canadian economy, disrupting an estimated $9.7 billion in trade,” Anderson said in a written statement.

Significant impact on rail transport

Canada’s railroads saw a sharp drop in container traffic this month, with more than half of their steel box shipments halted due to strikes.

RBC Dominion Securities analyst Walter Sprucklin said Canadian Rail’s revenue ton-miles, the industry’s leading metric used to measure revenue and freight volume, fell 60% in the first week of the job cuts.

In Canadian Pacific Kansas City, that number dropped 45%.

The plunge meant the number of containers carried by Canadian railroads last week was just half of what it reached in the same period in 2022, according to the American Railroad Association.

Cardboard boxes, which carry everything from consumer products to auto parts, are an important source of funding for Canada’s two major railroads, accounting for about a quarter of their annual revenue.

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