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Port shutdown looms as Vancouver longshore employees get lockout notice

PortandTerminal.com, May 29, 2019

Ninety-eight percent of the dock union’s workers backed the strike in hopes of securing a new contract to protect jobs and prevent the introduction of automated systems

Vancouver, Canada – The Port of Vancouver, a key link for Canadian trade with Asia, appears headed to an almost full shutdown after companies that operate port facilities announced a lockout.

Ports along B.C.’s coast will shut down Thursday following a breakdown in negotiations between the B.C. Maritime Employers Association and the workers union.

Port of Vancouver cruise terminal “Canada Place” will continue to operate during the lockout

The lockout won’t affect cruise ship operations or, under federal law, loading and handling of ships at the port’s grain terminals.

The association issued a notice to all 7,000 workers Tuesday warning them of the lockdown.

Association board chair Jeff Scott said they went to the lockout after feeling they had exhausted their options.

The ILWU in Los Angeles protested the threat posed by automation to union jobs last March

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) had served notice of “targeted job action” early Monday morning, which included an overtime ban, but said operations would be largely unaffected.

But Scott claimed this was not the case.

“We’ve had increasing labour disruption to the point that it’s jeopardizing cargo shipments and employee safety,” Scott told Black Press Media by phone.

“We’ve been left with no other choice but to serve lockout notice.”

Photo: Port of Vancouver, British Colombia

Scott said there had been over 70 meetings between the association and the union with a federal mediator in play since February.

“We don’t want a lockout…our preference would be to remain at the bargaining table,” he said.

Union president Rob Ashton called the move “reckless, irresponsible and needless.”

At issue in the contract negotiations, the union said, is the “insistence of the BCMEA to unilaterally introduce technological changes in port operations without regard for the health of the BC economy and the communities that rely on this industry.”

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