The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) workers walked off the job on July 1st after giving 72 hours strike notice on June 28th. Talks had been ongoing with the British Columbia Maritimes Employers Association (BCMEA) since February to renew the collective agreement which expired at the end of March.
The Union has listed 3 main objectives;
Longshore workers work at ocean ports transferring cargo through the dock area. They help load and unload cargo ships. The over 7000 striking workers would normally connect the sea vessels that arrive at the ports to the land transportation networks like truck or rail. Currently, cargo vessels are in a holding pattern and have not diverted to other ports. Cruise ship operations are not affected.
More than 30 BC ports are affected currently. CN Rail and CPKS Railway have stopped international service to BC ports. CN has added additional export capacity to Montreal, Halifax, and St. John to help ease the burden. BC handles the large majority of ocean freight from China. The volume of affected cargo increases with each passing day of job action. The longer it goes, the more the backlog will increase which will take longer to dig out of.
The BCMEA website claims its members handle 60 million tones of goods annually. 2020 numbers state that the affected ports handled over 16% of the country’s total traded goods. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it’s “very concerned” about the strike action, urging all involved parties to cut a deal “as quickly as possible.”
“A strike could have serious consequences for our economy and our small businesses. Port operations must remain fluid so as not to exacerbate supply chain disruptions and put further pressure on costs, at a time when we are still facing high inflation,” the federation said on July 1st. “It’s important to remember that strike-related delays can be costly for small businesses, which could lose sales as a result.”
Some experts peg the now week-long strike as costing over 5 billion dollars of disrupted trade for the Canadian economy.
Business leaders and industry associations have publicly called on the Federal Government of Canada to intervene citing the severe impact on both the Canadian economy and Canada’s supply chain. The Canadian Government has thus far not intervened and insisted that the best deal is negotiated through collective bargaining. With the damage to the economy accruing as the strike stretches into a second week, eventually they will be forced to legislate workers back to the job.
Orbit Brokers is following the situation closely as our client’s cargo is being affect. If you have any questions concerning the ongoing longshore worker’s strike, please Contact Us.