The marine industry in Vancouver let out a collective sigh of relief following the news that a tentative agreement has been struck between the ILWU and BCMEA. The agreement spells an end to a tumultuous stretch of bargaining. A strike would have threatened all port operations in/out of the West Coast of Canada (except cruise and grain ship services).
The following is a recap released by the BCMEA –
“The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and ILWU–Canada are pleased to advise they have come to a tentative agreement that will continue to allow all BC Ports to be a competitive, efficient and reliable gateway for the benefit of all Canadians. The tentative agreement is subject to ratification. Negotiations resumed at noon yesterday and after another round of discussions at the bargaining table, a tentative agreement was reached earlier this morning. “We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the ILWU. We appreciate the efforts of both parties to focus on reaching agreement and ensuring BC Ports remain open for business. The lockout has been lifted and we look forward to getting operations back to normal.”
The potential for automation of container terminal operations seemed to be the major road block in securing an agreement. Both Vancouver and Prince Rupert Terminals have already expressed an interest in pursuing semi/fully automated operations. Currently, there are 6 terminals in North America that provide at least partly automated processes (2 being fully automated). At the heart of the controversy is the potential Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project. This project could include “up to three berths for container ships” and act as a “modern, semi-automated terminal providing 1,500 on-terminal jobs.”
This a huge step in the right direction for all parties, however, the next hurdle will be ratifying the agreement. The ratification meeting is currently scheduled for June 19.
If any issues arise in the meantime we will revert accordingly, although, we are hopeful in the progress made thus far.