Canadian West Coast ports negotiation reaches impasse as strike enters its fourth day.

The negotiations between the parties have been ongoing since February this year in an attempt to renew the industry wide collective agreement which expired March 31, 2023.

The BC Maritime Employers Association on Monday said collective bargaining is not progressing and said a “course change” is required.

A union International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) representing port workers officially began striking on July 1, 2023, and issued a 72-hour strike notice to the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) as the negotiations for a new contract with employer’s struggle to find an agreement.

The BCMEA, which represents port owners, said the ILWU Canada “seems to have entrenched their positions,” rather than working for an equitable deal.

“ILWU Canada has left no further avenues to reach a deal. Course change is required”, says the employers union, adding that ILWU Canada went on strike over demands that were and continue to be outside any reasonable framework for settlement.

The employers note that a continuation of bargaining at this time is not going to produce a collective agreement.

They also claim that ILWU Canada is attempting to aggressively expand their scope and re-define Regular Maintenance Work far beyond what is set out in the industry-wide agreement, which has been legally well established for decades.

The BCMEA considers that by changing this definition would result in immediate and significant impacts to terminal operations.

They also mention that in 2022, the median salary of an ILWU Union longshore worker in B.C. was $136,000 per year, plus benefits and pension. Over the course of the past 13 years, longshore wages have risen by 40%, ahead of inflation at 30%.

ILWU Canada member wages have increased by approximately 10% in the past three years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as the employers BCMEA claims.

From the side of ILWU Canada the main objectives are:

To stop the erosion of the work through “Contracting Out”

To protect current and future generations from the devastating impacts of “Port Automation”

To protect longshore workers from record High Inflation and sky rocketing “Cost of Living.”

The BCMEA and ILWU are still at the negotiating table with federal mediators working towards a deal, said yesterday Mr. Seamus O’Regan Jr, member of parliament for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, minister of labour.