B.C.-wide port lockout lifted as union, employer sign tentative deal

Deal still pending ratification by union members

Ports across B.C. are not shutting down after a “tentative agreement” was reached between the union and the BC Maritime Employers Association.

In news release late Thursday morning, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said all night negotiations had led to a tentative deal.

The lockout, which was scheduled at 8 a.m. Thursday for all B.C. ports, will be lifted. The deal was reached with the help of federal mediators.

No details will be released until union members vote to ratify the deal.

Jeff Scott, chairman of the employers association, said the agreement will continue to allow B.C.’s ports to be competitive.

The lockout was lifted and a statement from the association said normal operations would resume late Thursday afternoon.

“We appreciate the efforts of both parties to focus on reaching agreement and ensuring B.C. ports remain open for business,” Scott said.

Automation was a key issue in the talks, with the employers association saying it would protect and enhance jobs while the union countered that automation would “decimate” ports and harm workers.

The last collective agreement expired March 31, 2018, and the union says negotiations began 18 months ago.

The employers association represents about 55 companies that employ about 7,000 workers. It said about 60 million tonnes of goods worth $53 billion are moved in and out of the ports every year.

“We are confident that this agreement, once signed, will secure a positive long-term outlook for trade and operations at our terminals, for the province and for the country,” Scott said.

READ MORE: Port workers locked out province wide, but Prince Rupert port remains operational

READ MORE: Negotiations continued through the night in effort to avoid B.C. port lockout


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