Friday, October 1, 2010

Mediator Wants 2-Year Extension to Canadian Docker Contract

A Canadian government mediator working to piece together a labor agreement between British Columbia dockers and their employers has recommended that the current contract be extended two years.

Contract negotiations between the union dockers and their employers have been ongoing since January 4, 2010 and the current labor agreement expired March 31, 2010.

The federal mediators' report, completed in July, recommends that if either the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada or the employers' British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) move toward a strike before September 2012, the Canadian government be prepared to step in with back-to-work legislation.

The report also calls for the formation of an industrial inquiry commission to look at the protracted contract talks as well as persistent reports of discrimination against female dockers on the waterfront.

The BCMEA said it wants to see binding arbitration begin, while the ILWU supports the findings of the mediators' report.

A shutdown at the West Coast Canadian ports could have a devastating impact on the Canadian economy according to the mediator’s report. The three ports of Port Metro Vancouver alone, said the report, represented $9.8 billion in economic output for the British Columbia economy in 2008. The Port of Vancouver, BC, which is part of the Port Metro group along with the North Frasier and Fraiser River ports, is the busiest container port in Canada, the fourth busiest on the US/Canadian West Coast and the fifth busiest in North America.

The last labor related shutdown at the Canadian West Coast ports was in 1999.