Vancouver dock workers, railways and Canadian Customs staff edge closer to strike action

By Paul Kelly in News Posted: 5th, June, 2024

We are monitoring a potential strike by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) that would impact Vancouver container terminals, as well as possible action by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) which could lead to significant disruptions to the flow of goods through Canadian ports of entry.

The ILWU insist they are doing everything it can to avert a potential strike at the port, while noting that the labour contract expired on March 31, 2023.

Bargaining began at the end of last May and with pauses continued till January 2024 when the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) filed a Notice of Dispute, which triggered a 60-day Conciliation Period and attempts at federal mediation. That was followed by a Cooling Off period that expired on May 10.

On May 15, the ILWU Local 514, which represents 700 workers at Vancouver terminals, agreed to delay serving a 72-hour strike notice and so far the contract negotiations remain deadlocked.

Canada’s West Coast ports suffered a devastating strike in 2023 that stopped container movements, that the BCMEA contends caused US$7.9 billion loss due to disrupted and diverted cargo, much of which never returned to Canadian ports.

Both sides are now free to move toward either a strike or lockout, but under Canadian labor rules they would have to take a vote and file 72-hour notice. The ILWU has taken its vote and was prepared to file its notice but said it was willing to wait while an effort was underway to try and restart the negotiations.

Canada Customs dispute
UPDATE @ 11th June 2024 – Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) announced that they have reached a tentative agreement for the Border Services Group, thereby avoiding a potential job action on Canada’s borders.

Over 90% of Public Service Alliance of Canada members working for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) voted to go on strike as soon as June, to secure a fair contract, with better pay and benefits.

Workers had been without a contract for over two years, yet Treasury Board and CBSA were not prepared to negotiate an agreement that protects workers, and continued to demand concessions at the bargaining table.

America’s second-largest trading partner still face a possible simultaneous strike in July at the country’s two main railroads, Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Kansas City, which would disrupt daily cross-border commercial trade between the U.S. and Canada. Negotiations are continuing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture warned the border agent strike could have “significant impacts” for agriculture trade, producers and consumers, but CBSA members would be legally allowed to strike once a federal labor-board committee delivers a report recommending how the employer, the Canadian government and the union can settle differences on a new agreement.

That report is due to be published in early June.

If you have any concerns about the issues raised in this article, we can review your situation, explain your options and, if necessary, consider alternative access ports into Canada or the United States.

Global Forwarding USA has a dedicated import and export department, that handle ocean, air and customs brokerage – including all related customs departments – with domestic transport for container movements, LTL and FTL.

EMAIL Adam Davies, Global Forwarding USA, Vice President.

Recent Posts
Port congestion growing

5th, June, 2024

The additional two weeks it takes for ships to sail around the Cape of Good…

US Customs trigger eCommerce crackdown

5th, June, 2024

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has confirmed that it is cracking down on ‘de…

Vancouver dock workers, railways and Canadian Customs staff edge closer to strike action

5th, June, 2024

We are monitoring a potential strike by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) that…