Gantry cranes sit idle as a container ship is docked at port during a work stoppage, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. British Columbia port employers say the longshore workers union has given 72-hour notice of renewed strike action starting on Saturday morning. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Breakthrough in B.C. port dispute as new tentative deal is reached

A late-night breakthrough could herald an end to British Columbia’s long-running port dispute, with the longshore workers’ union and the employers’ association announcing a new tentative agreement.

Details of the deal haven’t been released, but both sides say in a joint statement issued Sunday night that they are recommending their members to ratify it.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada and the BC Maritime Employers Association say the new tentative deal was reached with the assistance of the Canada Industrial Relations Board.

The dispute, which saw workers walk off the job at more than 30 port terminals and other sites for 13 days at the beginning of July, entered a new phase late Friday night when members of the union rejected a previous potential agreement with employers.

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan announced Saturday he was directing the industrial relations board to determine if a negotiated end to the dispute was still possible, and if not, to impose an agreement or final binding arbitration.

Pressure had been mounting for federal intervention if a deal failed to eventuate.

Parties including Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, the Business Council of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business have all urged the federal government to legislate an end to the dispute if it continued.

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