Talks to avoid labor strike at Canada ports ongoing

Dec 31, 2008 | 07:26 AM |

Mediated labor contract talks are continuing in an effort to avoid a crippling work disruption by longshoremen at Canada's West Coast ports, with both union and management so far refraining from issuing notice of imminent strike or lockout action.

About 450 ship and dock foremen with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada, Local 514, have been without a contract since March 2007. If the foremen walk off the job, thousands of longshoremen under their supervision are expected to also join the labor action, bringing all shipments—including those of metals and coal—that move through British Columbia ports to a near standstill.

The workers could have legally walked off the job starting Friday, Jan. 2, provided they first gave 72 hours' notice. But negotiators, who last met Tuesday, plan to return to the bargaining table on Saturday, Jan. 3, and the parties aren't expected to issue the required notice at least until then, according to Tom Dufresne, ILWU Canada's president. "As long as talks are going on, it's unlikely that anybody is going to serve any notice," he told AMM. "They made some progress Tuesday and agreed to meet again on Saturday, so it's always positive that people are talking."....

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