The last 13 days have taken a lot of patience for the folks at Aheer Transportation in Delta, BC, where truckers have been laid off and lots have been virtually silent due to the strike at the ports.
With news of a tentative deal Thursday, mechanics and coordinators sprang into action to prepare to clear the backlog of shipments built up during the work stoppage, according to company CEO Shinda Aheer.
“For us right now, we’re already panicking… Tomorrow, the floodgates are going to open and this is going to be full,” he told Breaking: on Thursday.
“It’s a mess we all have to work through together. We’re prepared for that. I imagine three or four weeks here, we’re going to be very busy.”
The International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union (ILWU) of Canada and the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) announced Thursday morning that they had reached a tentative four-year agreement to end the strike. The terms have not yet been made public and both parties have yet to ratify the agreement.
Some 7,400 workers have been on strike since July 1, halting shipments in and out of some 30 ports in BC, including Canada’s largest, the Port of Vancouver.
The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade says there are 63,000 shipping containers stuck on ships waiting at British Columbia ports to be unloaded.
Work was already scheduled to start again at the ports with the 4:30 p.m. PT shift on Thursday, according to the BCMEA.
The news has already prompted forestry giant Canfor to announce that it will resume operations next week at its Northwood pulp mill in Prince George, where some 450 workers have been laid off due to the strike.
Fiona Famulak, president of the BC Chamber of Commerce, said business owners are eager to see the supply chain move again.
“Manufacturers in particular are waiting for the product, from raw materials to glassware to rebar steel,” he said.
“They tell us that for every day of strike, they need three days to catch up… There is going to be some recovery.”
Dennis Darby, chief executive of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, said in a statement that manufacturers would spend the “next few months resolving damages and catching up.”