Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association keeping tabs on potential strike at B.C. ports

A potential strike of B.C. port workers is looming.

Yesterday (Wed), members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union voted in favour of strike action and could walk off the job on Saturday, if a deal can’t be reached with the B.C. Maritime Employers Association.

The potential strike would affect about 7,400 workers and 49 of the province’s waterfront employers at more than 30 B.C. ports including Canada’s busiest, Vancouver.

Jim Smolik with the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association noted the organization is a member of the Coalition of Rail Shippers, so they’re watching this closely.

He says a letter was sent to Ottawa regarding the possibility of a strike.

“This was sent before they had the opportunity to strike so before June 24,” Smolik said. “We’re concerned and we want to show our concern because the Coalition of Rail Shippers ships more than just grain – it includes lumber and fertilizer and virtually everything but it has a huge impact to the Canadian economy.”

How much of an impact is something Smolik is not sure of at this time.

“We need to make sure this is looked after very quickly,” Smolik said.

He also noted the U.S. West Coast Longshore reached a 6-year tentative agreement with 29 ports, “so we don’t want to get ourselves put into a competitive disadvantage.”

The main issues in the dispute are contracting out, port automation and the cost of living. Both sides continue to meet with the assistance of a federal mediator.

(With some files from The Canadian Press)

More from Saskagtoday.com