The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says it is “deeply disturbed” the British Columbia port workers’ union has served strike notice and is prepared to walk out on Saturday.
The chamber has issued a statement urging the federal government to “use all the tools in its tool box” to prevent a strike.
It says the shutdown of Canadian ports would fuel inflation, increase costs for people and businesses and seriously damage the economy.
This comes after federal ministers and B.C. Premier David Eby publicly urged the province’s port workers and employers to find a way to avert job action.
The strike notice, issued Wednesday by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, affects about 7,400 terminal cargo loaders and 49 of the province’s waterfront employers at more than 30 B.C. ports including Canada’s busiest, Vancouver.
The union says that contracting out, port automation and cost of living are key issues in the dispute.
Negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada and the BC Maritime Employers Association started in February in an attempt to reach an agreement before their contract expired at the end of March.
Both sides had been in a cooling-off period but that ended on June 21.
Union members voted 99.24 per cent in favour of strike action earlier this month.