That`s the good news on the shores of B.C. The bad news is that that is about all there is to say after the first year of negotiation of a new collective agreement between the province`s maritime employers and the coastal unions. BCMEA (BCMEA) and the 6,000 ILWU members held 44 negotiating sessions in 2018. Lauren Chan, la BCMEA`s director of communications and marketing, said that this year`s other nine meetings and others were scheduled for March. In July 2017, the U.S. International Longshore and Warehouse Union signed a three-year extension of its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association. The original collective agreement ended a stalemate that disrupted freight movement through major U.S. West Coast ports from mid-2014 to early 2015 and diverted some of that northbound traffic to the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. ILWU Local 502 withdrew its strike statement of September 3, 2018 and recommends that members vote in favour of the agreement.
On January 25, the two parties – the British Columbia Maritime Workers Association (BCMEA) and the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) – filed joint dispute resolution offices, where discussions were virtually interrupted. As of today, February 19, the Minister of Labour has appointed Kathy M. Peters in charge of conciliation, which aims to facilitate a collective renewal agreement. I hope this is a sign of progress. If a new long-term collective agreement is not negotiated, it could also tarnish C ports` competitive advantage over ports in North America and Mexico, which compete for a larger share of trans-Pacific cargo. The filing of this joint dispute settlement triggered the following deadline under the Canadian Labour Code: the application of the aforementioned time line to a calendar means that the 21st day after the conciliation ends will be Wednesday, May 1, 2019. During the 21-day period, each party may strike 72 hours or lock out, provided that it meets the conditions of a vote and has received a mandate from the majority that voted. We remain cautiously optimistic that the parties will reach a renewal agreement with the support of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (CSMF).