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British Columbia maritime employers file a complaint with CIRB over longshore union “intransigence”


The BC Maritime Employers Association has filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board as a result of the alleged “intransigence” of the union representing ship and dock foremen towards an offer that included “a generous monetary proposal.” The initiative was announced late last Friday.

The BCMEA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 (ILWU Local 514) continued negotiations last week with the support of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The BCMEA has been advancing proposals in pursuit of a balanced agreement that benefits the 730 hardworking forepersons and their families, while also ensuring B.C.’s ports remain competitive and affordable for all Canadians.

“Regrettably, given the conduct of the union bargaining committee and their intransigence at the bargaining table, the BCMEA has been left with no choice but to file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board today, which we hope will be resolved expeditiously,” the BCMEA indicated.

“The BCMEA’s most recent offer included a generous monetary proposal of a 19.2% wage increase, which would enhance the median foreperson compensation from $246,323 to $293,617 annually, not including benefits and pension.

“On top of that, the four-year proposal included a $3,243 average signing bonus and a 16% increased retirement benefit to $108,750 per worker, which are over and above employees’ pension entitlements. If the agreement were signed today, on average, eligible workers could receive a cumulative lump sum payment in the range of $15,000, inclusive of the signing bonus and retroactive pay.

“Despite the BCMEA’s best efforts, ILWU Local 514 has been protracting negotiations, putting Canada’s supply chain and our global trade reputation at further risk. When our ports and supply chain are threatened with disruption, cargo is diverted.

Canada’s West Coast ports suffered an enormous loss of $10.7 billion in disrupted and diverted cargo during the ILWU Canada’s 2023 strike – much of which has not returned to Canadian ports. Canada is already anticipating potential disruptions in rail and eastern ports this May 2024. ILWU Local 514’s continued disinterest in meaningful negotiations will undoubtedly impact Canada’s performance, partnerships and reputation across global markets.”

A 21-day cooling-off period concluded at 12:01 am PT on May 10. Thus, the Parties have now acquired the legal right to strike or lockout, but may not exercise their right to strike or lockout until:

  • A strike or lockout vote has been taken and,
  • A 72-hour strike notice including date and time of intended action has been provided to the other Party and the Minister of Labour. 

At the time of writing, neither Party has issued 72-hour notice, nor has there been any labour disruptions. Regular cargo and passenger operations at British Columbia’s ports continue uninterrupted.

(Port of Vancouver photo)