Limited work actions by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are planned to begin today at Deltaport and Vanterm, potentially affecting Canada’s main west coast transportation hub.
The negotiations have been ongoing since March 2019, and involve approximately 6000 workers at two of Canada’s largest container terminals, both of which are run by Global Container Terminals Canada (GCT). In spite of a 10 May 2019 strike vote of 98.4%, which was supported by union leadership in a personal letter from Local 500 President Rino Voci, the local has been unable to reach a final agreement with GCT, and as recently as Thursday industry was preparing for the potential of a crippling strike on the Pacific coast.
While the union is now in a strike position, the parties continue to negotiate and according to a Sunday press release the union will begin “limited job action” today.
“Our goal is to keep the ports open with minimal disruption to trade,” said union president Robert Ashton, according to multiple sources. While the nature of the limited action is not clear, he specified that there would be no picket lines at the facilities.
The strike action is limited to the two GCT owned terminals; terminals on Vancouver Island and at Prince Rupert are not subject to the strike notice. While the reason for the targeting of GCT rather than all container terminals is unclear, the union has emphasized concerns about automation as being central to these negotiations.