Canada port strike averted as labour board rules union notice illegal

The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) ruled on Sunday that a strike notice by ship and dock foremen at western Canadian ports violated the Canada Labour Code, effectively averting a disruption to port operations. The decision came within days of the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) filing their request for interim relief after the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 514 served a 72-hour strike notice to logistics company DP World (Canada) Inc.

The strike had been called by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 514, against DP World Canada for grievances including the implementation of automation, unresolved issues related to retirement benefits, and certain allowances, with the strike scheduled to begin on July 8. In response to the strike notice, the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) had warned of a lockout, where port employees would be prevented from attending their shifts.

The CIRB, in its decision, found that the union had not conducted the strike vote in good faith, since the vote concerned only one BCMEA employer.

In response to the ruling, the BCMEA rescinded its lockout notice. Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan also acknowledged the situation in a statement on X (formerly Twitter), emphasizing the role of federal mediators in facilitating negotiations between the parties and stressing the importance of reaching agreements through dialogue to ensure stability.

Last year, the CIRB ruled that a previous ILWU strike in British Columbia was illegal after the union attempted to resume strike efforts following a tentative agreement with the BCMEA.