Ports along B.C.’s coast, including Prince Rupert, will shut down Thursday following a breakdown in negotiations between the B.C. Maritime Employers Association and the workers union.
The association issued a notice to all 7,000 workers Tuesday warning them of the lockdown.
Association board chair Jeff Scott said they went to the lockout after feeling they had exhausted their options.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union had served notice of “targeted job action” early Monday morning, which included an overtime ban, but said operations would be largely unaffected.
But Scott claimed this was not the case.
“We’ve had increasing labour disruption to the point that it’s jeopardizing cargo shipments and employee safety,” Scott told Black Press Media by phone.
“We’ve been left with no other choice but to serve lockout notice.”
Scott said there had been over 70 meetings between the association and the union with a federal mediator in play since February.
“We don’t want a lockout…our preference would be to remain at the bargaining table,” he said.
The lockout has only two exceptions for grain and cruise operations.
“Every other operator is meant to comply with the law code, which would impact Prince Rupert,” Scott said.
Union president Rob Ashton called the move “reckless, irresponsible and needless.”
At issue in the contract negotiations, the union said, is the “insistence of the BCMEA to unilaterally introduce technological changes in port operations without regard for the health of the BC economy and the communities that rely on this industry.”