The Canadian West Coast port strikes seem to be going in the same direction as the labour disputes on the US West Coast ports earlier this year.

The latest news is that the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has held a meeting with officials from the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) in order to resolve a crisis that threatens to harm the Canadian economy.

The port employer’s association and the ILA were in negotiations until Tuesday 18th August and a deal seemed likely, however the ILA said that it was not satisfied the offer “met the membership’s goals and directed the bargaining committee to seek a negotiated agreement”. The ILA then informed the Canadian Minister of Labour and the employers and “resumed its lawful picketing activities.” Formal strikes will resume on Saturday after the statutory 72 hour warning period expires.

The rejection of the deal has evinced anger from the politicians, with Seamus O’Regan, the Minister for labour declaring that “we have been patient. Canadians have been patient. Every effort has been made. But this cannot go on.” It might be conjectured that this indicates that the Canadian Federal Government will put pressure on the dockworkers to end the strikes as the US Federal Government did in the case of the US West Coast dockworkers.

The Canadian dockers in British Columbia started striking at the beginning of July, with around 30 terminals being brought to a halt. The strikes were suspended on the 13th of July when the union and the terminal employer’s association seemed to agree on an arbitrated deal. It is this deal that the ILA has rejected.

The strikes at the beginning of the month had a considerable effect on the Canadian economy, especially aspects of the agricultural sector. But the impact on wider North American logistics operations was modest due to excess capacity to handle freight being available at US West Coast ports. In busier periods the effects could have been greater as the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are useful additions to the US West Coast ports with strong rail links to American eastern and northern states.

Source: Ti Insights

Author: Thomas Cullen

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