Pressure to settle B.C. port strike mounting

After almost two weeks since it began, there may finally be some movement in the west coast port strike.

Federal labour minister Seamus O’Regan says the strike has dragged on long enough, as he sent a letter to the lead federal negotiator in the strike to come up with a set of recommendations for a settlement in the dispute.

On July 1st, more than 7000 port workers from Vancouver to Prince Rupert hit the bricks. Other than a brief discussion last Saturday, the two sides haven’t been able to agree to continue talking.

Some estimates put the cost of the strike at around 250 million dollars a week, others suggest it’s closer to half a billion dollars every day.

The impact of the walkout is starting to be felt by several companies here on the prairies. Potash giant Nutrien announced this week, it’s curtailing production at one of its big mines just outside Saskatoon, because there’s no place to store the fertilizer that’s destined for export.

Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe made a comment on the strike at the premiers meeting in Winnipeg.

“We do need some intervention,” Moe stated. “About 20 percent of what travels through the Port of Vancouver comes from our Province of Saskatchewan and about 40 percent of what we produce actually goes through that port so it’s imperative that we have access and that port functioning.”

Premier Danielle Smith says the fact this strike has been allowed to drag on for nearly 2 weeks, doesn’t square with Ottawa’s claim it’s trying to make life more affordable for Canadians.

“If they were concerned about the affordability in Alberta, then they would end the port strike,” Smith said. “If this was a strike that was taking place in the Port of Montreal it would be over already.”

“We’re what, 10 days into a strike? We’re hearing that our producers are having to shut down or rollback their production. I’m hearing that across the board whether its in agriculture, whether its in oil, and this is going to have a huge impact on supply chains, so those are the kinds of things the federal government does that just makes things worse and that’s just going to increase the cost of everything in our province if it doesn’t get resolved very soon.” she continued.

The union, representing 7400 port workers is accusing the employer of demanding major concessions during a time of record profits, while the employer is accusing workers of making unreasonable demands.

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