UPDATE: Possible work stoppage threatens to close Prince Rupert Port

The Port of Prince Rupert is facing a potential work stoppage in near future, one that has the possibility of seeing the Asia-Pacific Gateway grind to a halt.

The Port of Prince Rupert is facing a potential work stoppage in near future, one that has the possibility of seeing the Asia-Pacific Gateway grind to a halt.

Earlier this week, International Long Shoreman and Warehouse Workers Union held a province-wide strike vote. By Thursday afternoon, a full-on media war had begun between the union and the B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).

The union’s negotiating team has not yet decided to release the results of the strike vote. But, the union said on Thursday through a press release that they have no intention of issuing a strike notice before negotiations resume, which are scheduled for February 12.

The two sides are currently in a cooling off period ends in less than a week, on February 7. The B.C. Maritime Employers Association has suggested in media reports that if the union were to issue the mandatory two-day notice, a strike could begin as early as the next day. On Thursday the union sent out a press release that accuses the BCMEA of fear mongering.

“It is the height of irresponsibility for the BCMEA to make these comments which will only create uncertainty, a circumstance the BCMEA claims to be trying to avoid,” says union president, Tom Dufresne via the press release.

On the flip side, the Prince Rupert chapter of the union has said that its more likely that BCMEA will lock the workers out. They claim that the BCMEA filed the federal paperwork that enabled them to start a lockout around a month ago.

“They’ve actually moved forward on this, not us . . . the last time long shoremen went on strike was 25 years ago, but we’ve been locked out numerous times since then. Yet everybody thinks we went on strike; it’s always locked out,” says Tom MacDonald, the secretary treasurer of the local 505.

A strike or a lockout would effectively shut down the Prince Rupert Port. Only the grain elevator and the coal terminal on Ridley Island would remain operational. This is because the grain elevator has government rules that disallow picketing it, and the coal terminal is governed by a different agreement. A strike would also mean the closing of Vancouver’s port.

The BCMEA has been suggesting that any strike would be industry-wide and would cripple the country’s export business in what are already tough economic times. The union has shot back saying that an industry-wide strike is optional and that the BCMEA’s statements are “disingenuous and misleading.”

According to media reports, a collective agreement covering 4,800 union members expired on March 31, 2010. BCMEA representatives have estimated that a strike would cost about $100-million per day across the province. They have also suggested that the two parties are not even close to having a deal.

The Northern View will be updating this story as it develops and as we get more information.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Northern Health to open 30 COVID vaccine clinics for oldest residents, Indigenous seniors

Health authority says it plans to vaccinate nearly 15,000 people in Phase Two

Prince Rupert’s Bobby Brown celebrated his 95th birthday milestone on March 5 with family across the country in an online celebration. (Photo: supplied by Jodi Brown)
Prince Rupert man celebrates 95th birthday milestone online

Five generations come together COVID-19 style in Prince Rupert to say “Happy Birthday”

Main door at Cranes Crossing, Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter, on March 5. Northern Health issued a public notice of potential exposure occurring at the shelter between Feb. 22 and 24. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
COVID-19 Public Exposure Notice issued for Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter

Northern Health said possible exposure between Feb. 22 and 24

Air Canada cancelled flights to Prince Regional Airport on Jan. 23, 2021 due to loss of ridership during COVID-19. An Air Canada Rouge takes off from Montreal in March 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
BC Liberals call for immediate action and support for B.C. airports

Prince Rupert Regional Airport and others across the province struggle with COVID-19 effects

Paul Williams rector of St. Andrews Cathedral in Prince Rupert sits in front of the 95-year-old pipe organ on March 5. The church has put out a community call for volunteers to play the instrument to keep it fresh and operational. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
St. Andrews Cathedral pipe organ needs players to make it sing

Prince Rupert volunteers who want to practice their playing skills are welcome

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

Most Read