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Impasse at strikebound B.C. ports not broken by renewed negotiations

More than 30 ports along the B.C. coast remain behind picket lines
Striking port workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada attend a rally, in Vancouver, on Thursday, July 6, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Striking British Columbia dock workers and their employer held a round of bargaining over the weekend, the first since negotiations collapsed one week ago, but neither side is saying when, or if, more talks are planned.

About 7,400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada have been on strike since July 1, idling all cargo handling at the Port of Vancouver, Canada’s busiest harbour.

Prince Rupert, the country’s third busiest port, and more than 28 others along the length of the B.C. coast are also behind picket lines.

The BC Maritime Employers Association says in its latest statement, issued Saturday after the round of mediated talks, that it made an offer to address dock workers’ demands to expand union jurisdiction over regular maintenance work at terminals.

Jurisdiction over maintenance, as well as improved wages and language to prevent contracting out and automation are key issues in the dispute.

The union has not responded publicly to the association’s proposal, but a union leader told a rally in Vancouver on Sunday that control over maintenance is a “line in the sand,” and although longshore workers can’t prevent automation, they, not contractors, should make repairs if robots break.

READ ALSO: Hundreds rally in Vancouver to support striking B.C. port workers