Federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan has responded to British Columbia port workers’ decision to reject a mediated contract offer overnight, raising the spectre of more federal intervention in the months-long dispute.
O’Regan says in a tweet this morning (July 29) that he “will have more to say very soon,” adding Canada must “bring stability back” to B.C. ports for the workers and businesses that depend on them.
The response comes after the approximately 7,400 workers represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada voted down a tentative agreement that was presented to them by union leadership on Tuesday.
Union president Rob Ashton did not disclose in his statement the details behind the final vote tally, only that the workers are now calling on port employers to come to the negotiating table to talk directly instead of going through the BC Maritime Employers Association.
The BCMEA issued a statement saying it is now awaiting further direction from the federal government on the labour dispute, which triggered a 13-day strike earlier this month that paralyzed more than 30 port terminals and other sites in places such as Canada’s busiest port in Vancouver.
Several Canadian political and business leaders had called for federal back to work legislation to end the dispute, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened the government’s incident response group to discuss the matter, an occurrence typically reserved for moments of national crisis.
The Canadian Press