Talks between the two parties to an ongoing port strike in British Columbia have resumed, ending a stretch of days away from the negotiating table.
The BC Maritime Employers Association released a statement Saturday night saying it met with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) of Canada.
The association said it proposed a committee and an independent arbitrator to make recommendations related to key points around the maintenance work.
The meeting came a day before the union is expected to hold a rally in Vancouver in support of the 7,400 workers who walked off the job on Canada Day, in part because the union says its jurisdiction over maintenance is being eroded by the use of contractors. .
Talks broke down on Monday and the association accused the union of trying to “aggressively expand” its control of maintenance tasks beyond what has been established for decades.
Other issues on the table include concerns about wages, the cost of living and automation.
“We believe that an agreement can be reached”
In its latest statement, the association says an arbitrator could make non-binding recommendations to help parties consider whether union members can perform some or all of the maintenance work in question.
He says his side also proposed increased benefits for occasional traders and more apprenticeships, but the ideas were rejected by the union.
“We believe an agreement can be reached if ILWU Canada wants it,” the statement said. “We know that the best agreements are made at the table, and this is exactly what we propose that the parties do.”
The union did not immediately release its position on the meeting, but previously accused employers of waiting for the federal government to do their “dirty work” instead of bargaining.
He has said employers have enjoyed record profits for many years, especially during the pandemic, and workers working in difficult and dangerous conditions should get their fair share of that money.
Multiple business organizations across the country have called for Ottawa to intervene with return-to-work legislation, citing concerns about the impact of a strike on the Canadian economy.
Federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan has repeatedly said that he believes negotiations are the way forward.
It is unclear when the two parties will speak next. The employers’ association says it is awaiting further instructions from federal mediators.