Talks between maritime employers and the union representing British Columbia dockworkers remain stalled over maintenance issues as the workers’ strike enters its fifth day.
Both sides have issued statements pointing to a maintenance agreement as the reason talks stalled on Monday, leaving more than 7,000 workers at 30 British Columbia ports on strike since Saturday morning.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada said its jurisdiction over maintenance is being eroded by the use of contractors, with the key problem being the refusal of employers to accept “a sentence” of a maintenance document.
Meanwhile, the BC Maritime Employers Association said the union is trying to “aggressively expand” its control of maintenance tasks well beyond an agreement the association says has been “legally well established for decades.”
He said unionized workers can no longer carry out duties over which they have jurisdiction, and changing the rules would have “immediate and significant impacts” on ports.
Experts and business groups warn that the strike could cause serious disruption if it lasts for more than two to three weeks, given the high volume of goods passing through the Port of Vancouver, Canada’s largest port.
“The port of Vancouver is what I call the gateway to the east. So products from China, Korea, Taiwan, even some of the products that come into Canada from the west coast of the US come through from the port of Vancouver. said Fraser Johnson, a professor of operations management at Western University’s Ivey School of Business.
“Big products would be household and consumer products, things like electronics, fashion appliances, building materials, cars from Japan and Korea, auto parts to be able to service cars at dealerships, equipment and machinery for the companies”.
Jasmin Guenette, vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said undelivered perishable products could mean retailers lose sales, while contracts are also at risk if products are not received on time.
Bob Ballantyne, senior adviser and former president of the Canadian Freight Management Association, said consumers could eventually see higher prices in sectors ranging from clothing to automobiles, and that exporters could soon face a warehousing crisis. .
Business organizations as well as officials in both Alberta and Saskatchewan have called on Ottawa to step in and end the strike, but Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan has said he wants the union and employers back to the table. of negotiations.