Metro Vancouver port workers handed lockout notice, effective Thursday

Contract talks have heated up between the longshoreman’s union and the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).

Longshoremen were handed a lockout notice Tuesday afternoon, telling them all port workers — except those working in cruise ship and grain operations — will be locked out of the job beginning Thursday morning.

President of the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union, Robert Ashton says he was handed this lockout notice just after lunch Tuesday afternoon.

The move comes as longshoremen are pursuing a new contract.

President of the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union Robert Ashton said they’re not giving up.

“We expect to be back at the table before the end of the week and we are going to be working diligently to get a collective agreement for our members and the community we live in,” he said.

The union started limited job action Monday morning.

It included an overtime ban at the Vanterm container terminal in Vancouver and the Deltaport container terminal in Delta, but no picket lines.

But BCMEA board chair Jeff Scott says the longshoremen’s action amounted to more than just an overtime ban.

“The reality is is that we’ve had significant labour disruptions, we’ve had delays in productivity performance, some work refusals,” he said Tuesday.

“And what that has done is lead to significant impact to operations, specifically at Deltaport in terms of being able to handle and load their cargo efficiently and safely.”

Ashton said he can’t believe the BCMEA has gone this far.

“The products won’t be able to ship through the country that come out the west coast here, I’m just really stunned that the BCMEA took this position,” he said.

Scott says he looks forward to getting back to negotiation.

“We would like nothing more than to not have a lockout on Thursday, so our primary focus is to get everyone back to the bargaining table,” he said.

The dispute involves about 6,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, who voted 98.4 per cent in favour of supporting strike action earlier this month.

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