Canadian supply chains could be hindered yet again if there is a labour disruption at B.C.'s major ports. PHOTO courtesy CP Rail.
By Greg Paliouras
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has signed a joint letter with over 120 other associations, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade, expressing concern over the potential for a labour disruption that would affect ports in British Columbia.
The collective agreements between the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and ILWU Canada, representing the Longshore Locals and Local 514 Ship & Dock Foremen, expired on March 31, 2023. The situation has the potential to escalate into a strike or lockout as early as June 24, disrupting operations at west coast ports, including the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert.
A labour disruption of this scale would have immediate and far-reaching impacts on Canada’s already fragile supply chain, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce warns with manufacturing and other industries being severely affected.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, alongside other signatories of this letter, is urging the government to work closely with the parties involved to secure an affordable, stable, and efficient supply chain.
“On behalf of the Canadian business community, we request the government’s active engagement with this bargaining process and that it be prepared to act to prevent a labour disruption. It is imperative that the federal government work with the parties to secure an affordable, stable, and efficient supply chain,” the Chamber’s letter to the federal government reads. “Canadians and businesses alike require stability in our supply chains. According to the Canadian Chamber’s Business Data Lab, nearly a quarter of businesses have stated that supply chain issues will continue to remain a key obstacle to growth and that they expect these challenges to persist well into next year. A labour disruption will have a significant and immediate impact on the livelihoods of Canadians and the health of Canadian businesses that rely on the safe and efficient flow of Canadian goods.”
Meanwhile the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have just announced a tentative six-year contract covering workers at all 29 west coast ports in the U.S. The draft agreement is subject to ratification by the PMA member companies and the ILWU members.