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Local ILWU workers enjoy widespread support as strike continues

Union remains deadlocked with employers over maintenance and subcontracting

As the International Longshore and Warehouse Union strike against the B.C. Maritime Employers Assocation (BCMEA) continues this week, Local 505 (Prince Rupert) said they were getting a lot of support from the community.

Sandy Dhara, a shop steward and spokesperson for the strikers, noted ferry workers, the nurses union, the B.C. Labour Council and Local 514 (ILWU ship and dock foremen) had all been very supportive.

Local businesses and individuals also stepped up to help out. Subway, for example, was giving the strikers discounts and others dropped of food and water to the corner of Park Avenue and Scott Road where the ILWU members were occupying the picket line in four-hour shifts.

“We’ve had a lot of generous donations from various community members,” Dhara said.

He said the local concerns are in line with the broader demands of the union.

READ MORE: Port strike will have ‘dire’ effect on supply chain: BC Chamber of Commerce

“We just want a fair contract that basically protects us from automation and so we don’t get subcontracted jobs coming into our port,” he explained. “And we want a wage increase that kind of keeps up with inflation.”

The workers have been without a contract since March. Months of negotiations produced nothing and when they became eligible to strike on July 1, 7,000 workers walked off the job.

Today (July 5), the two sides remained deadlocked over maintenance issues and subcontracting.

Each day the strike goes on pleas for the federal government to step in and end the strike grow louder as goods languish at the 30 affected ports on the B.C. coast.

READ MORE: B.C. port strike enters day 5 with talks deadlocked over maintenance

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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