Gantry cranes sit idle above cruise ships and stacks of cargo containers at port during a strike by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada workers in the province in Vancouver on Wednesday, July 12, 2023. Work has resumed at British Columbia ports after both sides of the strike agreed to a tentative deal Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. cargo flow should be normal in days after port strike: researcher

A logistics researcher says it should take only days for cargo flow to return to pre-strike levels at B.C. ports after a 13-day work stoppage ended with a tentative deal.

But Simon Fraser University Prof. Peter V. Hall says the port employers need to work with the union on significant long-term “structural changes” such as training to deal with the onset of automation.

Hall says he hopes the tentative agreement between the B.C. Maritime Employers Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada that was announced Thursday includes some sort of commitment towards that goal, since ports including Vancouver will face challenges on that front.

Port workers were back on the job Thursday afternoon, with the BCMEA saying more than 500 were being dispatched at Vancouver’s inner harbour by 8 a.m. today.

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s operations dashboard this morning shows the Centerm, Vanterm, Deltaport and Fraser Surrey terminals all “operating normally,” with truck waiting times for loading and unloading ranging from 20 minutes to one hour and 13 minutes.

The union, which represents 7,400 workers in the job action that began July 1, has not yet commented on the pact.

The agreement, which the BCMEA says lasts four years, is subject to ratification by members of both the union and the maritime employers, and no additional details have been released.

Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan said Thursday that the strike that had snarled trade worth billions was over and thanked both sides.

But he and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement that the extent of the disruption showed the importance of the relationship between industry and labour, and that Canada’s “supply chains and our economy depend on it.”

The tentative agreement to end the strike came after O’Regan ordered a mediator to issue terms for a settlement, saying the gap in the deadlocked talks was “not sufficient to justify a continued work stoppage.”

READ ALSO: Work resuming as tentative 4-year deal reached in B.C. port strike

READ ALSO: Railway shipments plummet amid B.C. port strike, hurting small businesses


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