West Coast dockers were back on the British Columbia waterfronts today after revoking a strike notice slated for Saturday following a crisis meeting held in Ottawa late Wednesday by Prime Minister Trudeau.
“All terminal operations are back to normal today,” a marine industry source told Maritime Magazine.
This was good news, at least temporarily, for domestic and international shippers, but the situation remained highly unpredictable for all industry stakeholders pending either a renewal of negotiations or direct federal intervention through back-to-work legislation – as urged by many business groups and several provincial premiers.
Late Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office said Mr. Trudeau had stressed the critical importance of operations at the ports resuming as soon as possible, and said that workers and employers across Canada cannot face further disruptions.
“He asked ministers and senior officials their advice toward achieving this goal and directed them to pursue all available options to ensure the stability of our supply chains and to protect Canadian jobs and our economy,” according to a PMO statement.
The withdrawal of the strike notice came just hours after the Canada Industrial Relations Board ruled the current stoppage was illegal because no formal strike notice had been posted 72 hours in advance.
“Effective immediately the strike notice dated July 22 for 9:00am has now been removed,” the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada said in a post on its website on Wednesday.
The strike that had shut down British Columbia’s 40 ports for two weeks had resumed Tuesday after the union leadership representing over 7,400 dockworkers rejected a tentative four-year deal agreed with employers last week – without actually staging a vote from all members.
The labour conflict has impacted on billions of dollars of cargo trade and upended operations at Vancouver and Prince Rupert, the largest and third largest ports in Canada, accounting for a significant portion of the country’s foreign trade.
(Photo from VFPA)