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Longshore union stalls full scale strike, begins overtime ban at Vancouver port

Vancouver, BC — Two major container terminals at the Port of Vancouver will not be behind picket lines although longshore workers are in a legal strike position.

A 72-hour strike notice issued by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada expired Monday at Global Container Terminals operations in Delta and Vancouver.

A news release issued on Sunday by union president Robert Ashton said the roughly 2,000 affected members of Locals 500 and 502 would not stage a full-scale strike, but would begin “limited and targeted” job action.

Jeff Scott, chairman of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, which bargains for more than 30 member companies at B.C. ports, said the job action relates to overtime.

Ashton’s statement said the union remains optimistic that a fair deal can be achieved, while Scott said more talks are expected, although he wasn’t aware of any firm dates following near round-the-clock sessions on the weekend.

About 6,000 Vancouver-area longshore workers at several employers have been without a contract since March 2018, and 98.4 per cent of those who voted earlier this month supported a strike.

Scott said the employers association is committed to continuing talks and is hopeful, given the union’s decision to take job action.

“It’s significantly different than, obviously, a strike or a walkout so that is positive,” he said in a telephone interview.

“We’ll have a better idea by about noon today of how things are playing out.”

Ashton’s statement said the union’s focus relates to “concerns over automation of the workplace and the potential devastation to our communities.”

A recent Port of Vancouver analysis found a labour disruption could lead to losses of as much as $540 million a day.