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Tentative deal reached in B.C. port strike, ending 13-day work stoppage

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The strike at British Columbia’s ports may soon be coming to an end after both sides reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year deal.

The BC Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada were given 24 hours to consider the terms of a proposed settlement by a federal mediator, which was delivered Wednesday morning.

On Thursday, the two sides reached a tentative agreement that is subject to ratification by both parties, according to a BCMEA statement.

“In partnership with our member employers, the BCMEA is committed to working closely with ILWU Canada and their Locals and supply chain partners to safely resume operations as soon as possible,” writes the association.

A brief statement on the union’s website details that the tentative deal was reached at 10:20 a.m., and that no further details will be released.

About 7,400 members of the ILWU Canada in Vancouver began striking on July 1, demanding better protections for workers and higher wages.

After mounting calls for Ottawa to intervene, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan invoked his statutory powers under the Canada Labour Code, instructing a federal mediator to draft the terms of a recommended settlement.

In it’s statement Thursday, the employers’ association thanked O’Regan and the federal mediator, Peter Simpson, for their assistance in the dispute.

“We must collectively work together to not only restore cargo operations as quickly and safely as possible but to also rebuild the reputation of Canada’s largest gateway and ensure supply chain stability and resilience for the future,” the release concludes.

O’Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra issued a joint statement after the tentative deal was announced.

“The scale of this disruption has been significant. The extent of it has shown just how important the relationship between industry and labour is to our national interest,” reads the release.

The work stoppage disrupted $500 million in goods every day, according to the industry group Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

“We do not want to be back here again. Deals like this, made between parties at the collective bargaining table, are the best way to prevent that,” the ministers said. 

B.C. Premier David Eby wrote on social media Thursday that he’s optimistic about the deal.

“The next step is for the federal government to assemble the provinces for a First Ministers meeting on trade and community infrastructure to build on momentum and expand our economic growth,” Eby tweeted.

A dispatch alert was issued Thursday afternoon for any ILWU Canada members interested in returning to work in Vancouver.

On Twitter, BCMEA clarified that shifts are available as of 4:30 p.m., but no workers are being ordered to return.

 

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