Chamber of Shipping calls for end to tug strike in Vancouver

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by Emily Atkins

The current strike by the Canadian Merchant Service Guild has halted the operations of Seaspan tugs and barges and is negatively impacting trade through the Port of Vancouver, the Chamber of Shipping has said in a statement.

The Canadian Merchant Service Guild began job action on September 1 after it said contract negotiations hit a roadblock. All 30 tugboats operated in the province by Seaspan are affected.

According to the Chamber of Shipping, the disruption is “tarnishing Vancouver’s reputation as a home port for cruise lines and a primary gateway to Asian markets” and increasing congestion at the Port of Vancouver.

“We encourage the parties to urgently return to the bargaining table and find sustainable solutions,” said Chamber president, Robert Lewis-Manning.

“Canada’s supply chain cannot afford additional congestion that negatively impacts Canadian businesses and results in increased impacts to local coastal communities, especially from ships at anchor awaiting to load at terminals. This is why recent efforts by the Government of Canada to improve supply chain resilience and sustainability are integral and supported by the Chamber.”

The Chamber also called on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to facilitate the safe transit, docking, servicing, and undocking of ships within its jurisdiction through authorities granted to it by the Canada Marine Act. Unexpected disruptions severely impact supply chain fluidity, creating significant uncertainty, and inefficient use of limited services vital to the safe operation of vessels.

The Port of Vancouver’s 29 major terminals handle over $275 billion in goods annually representing approximately $1 of every $3 of Canada’s trade in goods outside of North America.