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B.C. port cargo loaders approve strike, but talks continue with maritime employers

Strike action could begin as soon as June 24 if negotiations do not progress
The Port of Prince Rupert is just one of two in Canada to provide shore power to container vessels at berth reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the local environment. (Photo: supplied)

More than 7,000 terminal cargo loaders at British Columbia’s ports have voted overwhelmingly in support of strike action against local maritime employers, although both sides are still negotiating to avoid such an outcome.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada says a vote over the weekend yielded 99.24 per cent support for strike action against the BC Maritime Employers Association “if necessary.”

The strike vote gives cargo movers additional leverage in talks with employers, allowing the union to file 72-hour notice for a strike to begin on June 24 if negotiations do not progress.

The two sides are currently in a cooling-off period until June 21, while the union’s U.S. counterpart holds its own talks with West Coast ports leading to disruptions in ports, including Los Angeles.

Negotiations in B.C. are scheduled to continue this week, after the previous agreement between the two sides expired on March 30.

The BC Maritime Employers Association’s website says the industry contributes $2.7 billion to the national GDP and handled roughly 16 per cent of Canada’s total traded goods, amounting to $180 billion in 2020.

READ ALSO: Union for 7,000-plus terminal cargo workers in B.C. ports to hold strike vote