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Canada Dock Workers’ Union, Employers Reach Tentative Deal to Avert Strike

FILE PHOTO: A commuter Seabus passes idle shipping cranes towering over stacked containers during a strike by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) at Canada's busiest port of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 11, 2023. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

Canada Dock Workers’ Union, Employers Reach Tentative Deal to Avert Strike

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August 1, 2023

By David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil

OTTAWA (Reuters) – A dock workers’ union on Canada’s West Coast and port employers have provisionally agreed to a new labor contract, averting an immediate strike, but the agreement needs to be approved by workers who rejected a previous deal.

Ottawa intervened in the labor dispute in an effort to keep two of Canada’s three busiest ports, the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, open after a nearly two-week strike disrupted more than C$6 billion ($4.6 billion) in trade.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Canada Union (ILWU) and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) are recommending ratification of the new deal, they said in a joint statement late on Sunday. Terms were not disclosed.

The union, representing about 7,500 dock workers, has agreed not to call a strike until a ratification vote, theCanada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) said on Monday, adding that the vote must be held no later than Friday.

The parties have been negotiating a new contract for months, and disagreements over pay and a proposal to expand the union’s jurisdiction to regular maintenance work on terminals led to a 13-day strike in July.

The CIRB said it met with the two parties on Sunday and helped them reach agreement.

That was two days after workers voted to reject an earlier tentative deal, leading Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan to direct the CIRB to resolve the dispute.

“We are hoping that this new offer, a solution that’s on the table, will be accepted,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Hamilton, Ontario, on Monday.

While the terms of Sunday’s agreement are not expected be made public until after the ratification vote, the rejected deal had provided a compounded wage increase of 19.2% and increased retirement payouts in 2026 to C$96,250 ($72,625) for eligible retiring employees, over and above employees’ pension entitlements, according to the employers’ association.

($1 = 1.3171 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Angus MacSwan and Cynthia Osterman)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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