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Canada's port workers union leadership backs new contract deal

Published Jul 21, 2023 08:50AM ET Updated Jul 21, 2023 04:42PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker walks to the Port of Vancouver as International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) union members returned to clear a backlog of containers and bulk cargo from a 13-day strike in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 20, 2023. RE

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Leaders of a dock workers union in Canada's Pacific region on Friday backed a tentative contract deal with employers and will soon recommend ratification to members, likely ending a standoff that led to a crippling 13-day strike.

On Tuesday, "there will be a stop work meeting ... to recommend the Terms of Settlement to the membership," the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) said in a statement.

Leadership had been due to vote on Friday on whether to recommend ratification. No details about the tentative deal were provided.

Some 7,500 dock workers walked off the job for 13 days earlier this month. That strike ended last week with a tentative deal that was rejected by union leadership on Tuesday.

The walkout is estimated to have disrupted C$6.5 billion ($4.9 billion) of cargo movement at the ports, based on the industry body Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' calculation of about C$500 million in disrupted trade each day.

The strike has upended operations at Vancouver and Prince Rupert, two of Canada's three busiest ports, which are key gateways for exporting natural resources and commodities and bringing in raw materials.

Canadian Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan thanked the union leadership for recommending the deal.

"Right now, British Columbia ports are operating, but we need long-term stability," he tweeted.

The ILWU initially told its members to return to the picket line, but then retracted when a federal watchdog said it had not provided 72-hours notice. It then gave notice for the strike to restart on Saturday, prompting calls for the federal government to recall parliament to pass back-to-work legislation.

But the ILWU then withdrew its strike notice on Wednesday, leaving the talks in what the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) said was a "fluid and unpredictable situation."

Canada's port workers union leadership backs new contract deal
 

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