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Three Vancouver longshore workers test COVID positive. “This could spread like wildfire”

PortandTerminal.com, August 24, 2020

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Canadian broadcaster CTV is reporting that the union representing longshore workers at the Port of Vancouver says three of its members have tested positive for COVID-19. The union is also expressing concern about the possibility of more workers contracting the coronavirus from international vessels arriving in Metro Vancouver.

“With members travelling from depressed ports and the foreman’s working Local 514 working at multiple sites this could spread like wildfire among our ILWU families,” the union said in a bulletin.

Local 500 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union – which represents workers at the Vancouver terminal – says the three workers who tested positive contracted the virus around two weeks ago, but they worked shifts in the jurisdiction of Local 502 – which represents workers at Deltaport – before they developed symptoms.

The workers who tested positive are now self-isolating at home, and the union has asked members who were exposed to the virus to isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms.

At the same time, the union is expressing concern about a vessel that arrived at Deltaport last week.

Container ship
SOFIA EXPRESS Container Ship, IMO: 9450404 PHOTO: VesselFinder.com

Two crew members aboard Hapag-Lloyd’s Sofia Express have tested positive for COVID-19, and five more are isolating while they wait for test results.

Patrick Bolen, first vice president of ILWU Canada, told CTV News Vancouver pilots at Deltaport objected strenuously to allowing the ship to dock there.

“We all felt it should be quarantined until everybody is cleared and through the incubation period,” Bolen said. “We had a conference call where all the stakeholders were involved, and at the end of the day it was a 30-minute conversation that went nowhere.”

Local pilots brought the ship into Deltaport early Saturday morning, after it had spent most of the week moored offshore, according to Bolen.

He said discussions with Global Container Terminals led to extensive cleaning, restrictions on the movements of the Sofia Express crew and conversations that would normally be done in-person being had by phone instead.

Before those discussions, union members had been considering refusing work because of health and safety concerns, Bolen said. Work began on the Sofia Express Saturday night, he said, but added the union is still worried about the potential for future issues.

“We’re still concerned,” he said. “If this happens again, you know, our problem is we’re kind of the front end of the food chain, the whole supply chain.”

Read the full CTV story here.

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