BBOT signs joint letter urging Federal Government action to prevent labour disruption at BC ports

Burnaby, June 20, 2023 – The Burnaby Board of Trade, along with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and 120 other business associations across Canada, signed a joint letter to raise our collective concern over the potential for a labour disruption that would affect British Columbia ports.

With the collective agreements between the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and ILWU Canada, who represent the Longshore Locals and Local 514 Ship & Dock Foremen, expiring this past March, there is a real potential for this situation to escalate into a strike or lockout as early as June 24. Any job action on either side will disrupt operations at our west coast ports, which include the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert, impacting over $500 million worth of cargo, including agri-foods, perishable goods, potash, critical minerals and household necessities, every day.

A labour disruption at Canada’s largest gateway would have immediate and far-reaching impacts on Canada’s fragile supply chain, which is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate-related crises (e.g., wildfires, floods), and ongoing geopolitical uncertainty. Sectors across Canada, such as manufacturing, retail, agriculture, car dealers, and energy industries to name a few, would be severely affected within a matter of weeks with the negative effects lasting far beyond any disruption.

While the Burnaby Board of Trade respects the collective bargaining process, the federal government must be prepared to act immediately in the event bargaining breaks down. A functioning, efficient, reliable, and affordable supply chain is critical to Canada’s economy.

The Burnaby Board of Trade, along with our fellow signatories, urge the federal government to work closely with BC maritime employers and workers to help facilitate an agreement that can allow Canada to maintain a supply chain that can counter high inflation, restore price stability, and support growth and prosperity for Burnaby and Canadian businesses and citizens alike.

Read the full letter and the list of signatories here.