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ILWU Canada Commences Strike Activity

Regret to advise that this morning we have received news that the BC Maritime Employers Association and ILWU have been unable to come to an agreement despite active bargaining over the past 3 days after the ILWU issued notice to strike. Effective 0800 hrs July 01, picket lines will start popping up around the Ports of WC Canada and will shut down a majority of the bulk, break bulk, and container business. Reminder that the movement of grain is considered as essential service and cannot legally be hindered. We will keep our client base as closely advised as possible as this situation unfolds. Happy Canada Day!


Update: July 03, 2023

This afternoon we received the following update from the BC Maritime Employer’s Association regarding lack of progress with bargaining. The tone is one of frustration and seems to be angling towards government intervention or some kind of binding arbitration process. The ILWU president was also frustrated and, in a press conference, warned the Federal Government to stay out of the process or else the country may be faced with no labour peace in the future.

Definitely not good news for a quick settlement.

Reminder that grain movement is protected by essential service designation so all grain terminals should remain working throughout this labour disruption.

Likewise, Westshore Terminal and Trigon Terminal in Prince Rupert are under separate agreements therefore will continue to operate.



Update: July 05, 2023

In order to manage anchorage congestion due to the Longshore strike in Vancouver, we have received the below mentioned directive from the Harbour Master. In short, he is asking vessels/shippers/charterers to adopt “Near time arrival” protocol in order to minimize the number of anchor days needed by arriving vessels. The gist of this protocol is for shippers/charterers/owners to arrange to slow down the arrival of a vessel to a date closer to the expected loading.Commercial arrangements would need to be made with regards to NOR tendering time that would have happened if the vessel had arrived at the originally intended date

For example, if a grain shipper knows that a given vessel will have a 7 day wait, then this vessel should be slowed down to arrive in Port closer to the day it is expected to berth.

Likewise if a shipper that is currently shut down by the strike knows that they cannot load an arriving vessel for a long period of time, they should make similar arrangements.



Update: July 11, 2023

We are now in Day 11 of the Longshore strike that has shut down most of the export and import volume in West Coast Canada. Talks broke off early last week and then resumed again with the assistance of a Federally appointed mediator. The issues remain: the ILWU quest to expand jurisdiction of terminal repair/maintenance and wages.

On July 08, the BCMEA proposed a revised deal to the ILWU that opened the door to increased jurisdiction however the proposal was quickly rejected. We understand that the parties have met again yesterday July 10, but have not had any meetings today – both parties awaiting next steps, likely from the government.

Over the past 2 days, we are now seeing news reports of vessels being actively diverted, mine sites being closed and workers laid off, and other ports being used to export cargoes that would have flowed through Vancouver. The economic consequences are now huge. Industry and trade associations are pressing the Federal government to act quickly to end the dispute one way or another. The railways have also advised that their curtailed volumes will take some time to ramp back up when the strike ends.

Grain export continues with no significant interruption.

Westshore and Trigon Terminal coal exports remain flowing.



Update: July 12, 2023

The ILWU strike is now in it’s 12th day. Last night we received an update from the Employer’s association stating that the Federal Minister of Labour has mandated the Federal mediator to make a recommendation for a fair settlement to both parties within the next 24 hours. The parties will then be given 24 hours to take back to their members to hopefully ratify and put an end to the strike. If either party does not ratify the recommendation, then the government would likely have to take next steps, which would likely mean back to work legislation. This is good news as it signals some firm action by the government to end the stand off. We are hopeful that within the next 2 to 4 days, we should have an end to the strike (this is purely a guess, but it’s unlikely that the government will let this stall much longer).


Update: July 13, 2023

Good news to report today from British Columbia. BCMEA and ILWU have come to a tentative agreement to end the 13 day strike that started on July 01, 2023. Ships are coming alongside as early as this afternoon to load and discharge their intended cargoes. The deal is still subject to ratification by both parties, which will take some time, but it would be surprising to see it fail given the damage done to the Canadian economy already. Terms of the deal will not be released until after ratification. Thanks to our clients worldwide for your patience and resolve. We wish it had been settled at an earlier date before so much financial damage, which is a matter with which our leaders will have to reckon.


Click here for BCMEA/ILWU negotiation updates.