Trade Regulation Updates

B.C. Port Workers Revoke Strike Notice, Feds Expect Labour Action to End

July 20, 2023

The union representing dockworkers at B.C.'s ports has revoked the 72-hour strike notice it issued Wednesday – just hours after it was issued – a move that could signal an end to a tumultuous labour dispute.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada said in a brief statement Wednesday that the revocation of notice is "effective immediately."

The BC Marine Employers' Association said it is unclear what exactly this move means.

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan’s office told CTV News that the government expects there will soon be a vote to ratify the tentative agreement and cement a deal.

While calling off the pickets scheduled for Saturday morning means the government now likely won't have to pursue back-to-work legislation, the minister's office said the federal government is ready to act if and when it becomes necessary.

The latest development came after a flurry of activity in B.C. and in Ottawa that began Tuesday evening when the union announced its leadership had rejected a tentative agreement that was meant to bring an end to the strike – which saw a 13-day work-stoppage at the ports estimated to have stopped the import and export of billions of dollars worth of goods.

The decision to reject the mediated settlement was made by union leadership before a vote was held.

Picket lines went back up Tuesday afternoon but were gone Wednesday morning after O'Regan called the resumed strike "illegal," citing the lack of a 72-hour notice.

Then, the ILWU Canada issued a statement disputing the claim that the strike was illegal, but nevertheless serving notice that they would be off the job starting Saturday at 9 a.m.

Shortly afterward, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened the incident response group in Ottawa to discuss the strike.

"The Prime Minister stressed the critical importance of resuming operations in our ports as soon as possible. Workers and employers across Canada – and all Canadians – cannot face further disruption," a readout of that meeting said.

"He asked ministers and senior officials their advice toward achieving this goal and directed them to pursue all available options to ensure the stability of our supply chains and to protect Canadian jobs and our economy."

This is an excerpt from the July 18, 2023 edition of the CTV News Vancouver.