VANCOUVER — A lockout notice issued by the group representing over 50 waterfront employers in B.C. will take effect Thursday, but the union’s president says his members are committed to keeping the ports open.
Rob Ashton of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said if they wanted to close B.C.’s ports, from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, that would have been done when their strike notice expired on Monday.
“We don’t want to drag the people of B.C., and honestly, the people of Canada, because that’s who we affect, into this dispute. We don’t want to bring the government into it, because they don’t need to be in it,” Ashton said in an interview Wednesday.
Strike notice issued by the union covered only the DeltaPort and VanTerm terminals in Metro Vancouver and that notice was minimized Sunday to an overtime ban for about 2,000 workers at those terminals.
Jeff Scott, chairman of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, which bargains on behalf of terminal operators for ports in Vancouver, New Westminster, Prince Rupert, Stewart and on Vancouver Island, said Tuesday that the overtime ban had escalated to work stoppages.
Terminals could no longer operate efficiently, Scott said, so the decision was made to issue lockout notice affecting about 7,000 workers and every seaport in B.C.
The potential widespread financial impact amounts to about $5 billion a day across Canada, Scott said.
Ashton said the notice does not cover B.C.’s grain or cruise ship terminals.
But he said the broad lockout notice was “shocking,” and came without warning after talks had stalled, although the union wasn’t prepared to abandon mediated sessions.
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