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Prince Rupert ILWU workers suspended without pay after refusing to cross pro-Palestinian protest

Workers suspended following Israeli-owned Volans container ship blockade protest

Ninety-four members of the International Longshore Workers Union Local 505 (ILWU) have been suspended without pay from duties following refusals to cross JPO Volans demonstrations, Ian Robinson, manager of yard and gate at DP World wrote, in a June 21 letter to ILWU.

The JPO Volans, an Israeli-owned, Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. cargo vessel arrived in Prince Rupert, on June 14, which prompted demonstrations at the Fairview Terminal.

The ship was originally denied docking in Oakland California on June 4, due to pro-Palestinian blockades. The ship carried on to Vancouver, where it was once again denied berthing to unload its containers. In further hopes of unloading the goods, the ship arrived at the Port of Prince Rupert.

As part of the “Block the Boat” campaign, local activists, Prince Rupert Solidarity Group, organized a demonstration to bring awareness to what they called an “Israeli apartheid state” and alleged violations against Palestinians.

A number of ILWU workers refused to cross the demonstration line and report for work.

The letter written to ILWU, obtained by The Northern View, states that after the employer reviewed the June 15 and 16 circumstances, they confirmed 94 workers, who were dispatched to work at the terminal on the 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. shifts, failed to show up for work, despite no impediment to accessing the terminal.

“The refusal was in support of the demonstrators and continued after the employees were informed to report to work,” Robinson states in the letter.

All 94 employees have been suspended without pay from June 22, at 4:30 p.m. to June 25 inclusive.

DP World Prince Rupert states it and its customers experienced, “financial harm due to the downtime and lost productivity of the employee who failed to report to work,”.

The scope of financial loss to the DP World and its customers is currently under review.

“We are currently estimating the scope of these damages, but hereby put the union on notice that we intend to recover damages from those involved,” the DP World representative state in the communication to the union.

“The actions of the individuals constituted an illegal work refusal contrary to Article 7.01 of the collective agreement and requirements under the Canada Labour Code,” the letter states.

“The union agrees that during the term of this agreement there will be no slowdown nor strike, stoppage of work, cessation of work, or refusal to work or to continue to work,” the collective agreement states.

Requests for comment from ILWU 505 and DP World have not been immediately returned.

More to come…

READ MORE: Prince Rupert Solidarity Group pickets at port in protest

 K-J Millar | Journalist 
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