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Decision by Canada Industrial Relations Board halts planned strike action today by BC ship and dock foremen

A strike slated to start today around 4.30 pm by some 600 ship and dock foremen in British Columbia has been averted as a result of a decision announced Sunday by the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

Following a case management conference after the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association requested urgent CIRB intervention to stop the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 514 (ILWU) from proceeding with the work stoppage, the CIRB ruled that the strike action contravened the Canada Labour Code and ordered it to be rescinded.

Rapidly, the BCMEA withdrew its industry-wide lockout notice of “defensive action” for potential effect as of July 9.

In its ruling, the Board stated: “After consideration of the parties’ submissions filed in these matters, the Board has determined that the union has declared or authorized a strike in contravention of the Code. More specifically, the Board finds that, in the circumstances of this case, the union failed to bargain in good faith when it conducted a strike vote amongst the employees of only one member employer of the BCMEA and issued a strike notice based on that strike vote.”

The”one member employer” referred to is DP World, which has been a special target of union concerns due to its automation plans for its significantly expanded Centerm container terminal in the Port of Vancouver.

The Board concluded that ”the union has not met the requirements of section 89(1)b)(ii) of the Code. Accordingly, pursuant to section 91(2) of the Code, the Board directs the union to rescind its strike notice of July 5, 2024, and to advise its members forthwith that the strike notice is rescinded.”

In addition, the CIRB found ILWU Local 514’s Nanaimo dispatch proposal was illegal, because it consists of a receding horizon on bargaining and amounts to a failure to bargain in good faith. Thus, the Board directed the union to withdraw this proposal. 

The BCMEA commented it is “disappointed that these steps needed to be taken to ensure the stability of Canada’s West Coast ports, but is pleased with the outcome of the Board’s decision.”

Meanwhile, the CIRB hearing to address the outstanding DP World (Canada) Inc. manning proposal of the union, which the BCMEA has alleged to also be illegal, is scheduled to continue August 6-9.

(Photo Port of Vancouver).