Following months of negotiations and intensive mediation sessions, all of which failed to reach a settlement, and with the deadline for the seven-month truce reached last summer now looming, on March 12, the Maritime Employers Association made its final comprehensive offer to the Longshoremen’s Union CUPE Local 375.
The union had faced a hearing last week before the Canada Industrial Relations Board concerning allegations that it had been “negotiating in bad faith.” Yesterday, however, the CIRB dismissed the employer’s complaint but has yet to publish its decision.
With regards to the final offer put forward by the MEA, “This is not an agreement in principle,” the union pointedly told its members; though owing to the voluntary media blackout in effect during the truce, it’s unclear what recommendation, if any, was made by CUPE, or whether it remained neutral on the offer, leaving the decision to members.
In any case, details of the employer’s final offer were distributed via email yesterday by the union to the 1,125 longshore workers it represents. The vote is set to take place on Sunday—the final day of the truce.
It was agreed that once the truce ended, the parties would regain their right to lock out and strike. Therefore, should the union reject MEA’s offer on Sunday, workers will then be in a position to provide a 72-hour strike notice. Port operations could be impacted as soon as next Wednesday.
Shipping Industry Warns of Disruptions
Earlier this month, the Shipping Federation of Canada said the ongoing threat of a work stoppage has already forced many North American importers and exporters to divert large volumes of international cargo away from the port and is causing havoc to supply chains.
The group warned that damage to the local, provincial, and national economies from another strike would be significant and could not happen at a worse time because of the logistics of delivering medical supplies and equipment in the midst of a pandemic.
Need More Information?
Should you have any questions regarding how this developing situation could affect your inbound shipments or need to discuss alternate routing plans, etc., don’t hesitate to contact us.