ILWU Canada accepts B.C. ports deal brokered after minister steps in

Written by Nick Blenkey
Strikers prior to B.C. ports deal

IMAGE: Screen grab from CBC News video

The long running British Columbia ports labor dispute looks to have finally been settled. On August 4, members of the ILWU Canada Longshore Division voted 77.64% in favor of ratification of a four-year negotiated tentative agreement with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA). The tentative B.C. ports deal was reached after the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) stepped in.

That came after the union had rejected an earlier tentative agreement, prompting Canada’s Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr., to act.

“As Minister of Labour, I am using my authorities under Section 107 of the Canada Labour Code to preserve industrial peace,” he said on July 29. “I have directed the Canada Industrial Relations Board to determine whether the union’s rejection of the tentative agreement has eliminated the possibility of a negotiated resolution. If the Board determines that to be the case, I have directed them to either impose a new collective agreement on the parties or impose final binding arbitration to resolve outstanding terms of the collective agreement.”

After news that a deal had been reached he and Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez issued a statement saying, among other things, “Collective bargaining is hard work. But is how the best most resilient deals are made.“

The BCMEA notes that the agreement that has now been reached with ILWU Canada comes after five months of negotiations, conciliation and mediation, and five weeks of labor instability at B.C.’s ports.

“The renewed collective agreement,” says BCMEA, “includes increases in wages, benefits and training that recognizes the skills and efforts of B.C.’s waterfront workforce, while providing certainty and stability for the future of Canada’s West Coast ports.”

ILWU Canada has, as yet, said nothing publicly about what’s in the new B.C. port deal, but the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) indicated that details would be released after ratification has been formalized.

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