BC maritime employers file complaint with industrial relations board

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by Emily Atkins

The BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) has filed a complaint with the the Canada Industrial Relations Board related to contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 (ILWU Local 514).

The BCMEA and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 (ILWU Local 514) were negotiating in the week of May 6, 2024, week with the support of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

In a statement, the BCMEA said: “Regrettably, given the conduct of the union bargaining committee and their intransigence at the bargaining table, the BCMEA has been left with no choice but to file a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board today, which we hope will be resolved expeditiously.”

The BCMEA’s most recent offer included a monetary proposal of a 19.2 percent wage increase, which would bump the median foreperson compensation from $246,323 to $293,617 annually, not including benefits and pension. On top of that, the four-year proposal included a $3,243 average signing bonus and a 16 percent increased retirement benefit to $108,750 per worker, which are over and above employees’ pension entitlements. If the agreement were signed immediately, on average, eligible workers could receive a cumulative lump sum payment in the range of $15,000, inclusive of the signing bonus and retroactive pay.

In its statement BCMEA asserted that ILWU Local 514 has been protracting negotiations, “putting Canada’s supply chain and our global trade reputation at further risk. When our ports and supply chain are threatened with disruption, cargo is diverted. Canada’s West Coast ports suffered an enormous loss of $10.7 billion in disrupted and diverted cargo during the ILWU Canada’s 2023 strike – much of which has not returned to Canadian ports.”

Canada is already anticipating potential disruptions in rail and eastern ports this May 2024.

The 21-day cooling-off period concluded at 12:01 am PT May 10, which means the union may strike or the employers can lock them out after a strike or lockout vote has been taken and, a 72-hour strike notice including date and time of intended action has been provided to the other party and the minister of labour.

As of Friday, neither Party had issued 72-hour notice, nor had there been any labour disruption. Regular cargo and passenger operations at British Columbia’s ports continue uninterrupted.