Vancouver, British Columbia — Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan was on the scene of the strike at the Port of Vancouver Tuesday, where he issued a deadline to a federal mediator to reach a settlement with the port workers within 24 hours.
With this invocation of O’Regan’s statutory powers under the Canadian Labour Code, a 24-hour clock has begun during which time the mediator must draft and submit the terms of a recommended settlement.
From that point, the minister will give both parties an additional 24 hours to “review and communicate their willingness to recommend the terms for ratification to their respective members.”
“Today, after eleven days of a work stoppage, I have decided that the difference between the employer’s and the union’s positions is not sufficient to justify a continued work stoppage,” O’Regan said in a statement.
The 7,400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada have been on strike since July 1, fighting for higher wages and protections against automation.
The effects of the strike, if not already being felt, are causing businesses across Canada to worry about supply chain disruptions, as shown in a Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey that found that 53 percent of business owners expect to be impacted by the strike.
“Supply chains have just started to recover from the disruptions caused by the pandemic, so many businesses will feel this latest setback extra hard,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly in a press release.
“The federal government must step in and get shipments moving again as quickly as possible.”
Huw Williams, the director of public affairs for the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, is worried that the strike could impact supply chains for longer than anticipated, considering much of the auto industry is still reeling from pandemic delays.
“We’ve gone through prolonged shortages, so we had been predicting that supply and demand would meet towards the end of this year. This port strike will likely destroy that prediction.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been calling on the federal government to “put an end to this”, citing losses of $160 million a day for the province since the strike began.
Read Seamus O’Regan’s full statement below.