Canada's Trudeau convenes a crisis group over Canadian port strike as union gives 72-hour notice

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with top officials after the longshore union renewed a 72-hour strike notice after already halting shipments in and out of ports in Canada’s west coast region of British Columbia for nearly two weeks

Via AP news wire
Thursday 20 July 2023 00:00 BST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with top officials Wednesday after the longshore union renewed a 72-hour strike notice after already halting shipments in and out of ports in Canada’s west coast region of British Columbia for nearly two weeks.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada said Wednesday it did so in the hope of returning to the bargaining table, and it “regrets” the economic impact of the dispute that previously shut down British Columbia ports for 13 days at the start of the month, stalling cargo worth billions.

About 7,400 workers at more than 30 British Columbia port terminals and other sites began striking on July 1 and originally returned to work last Thursday after a tentative deal was drafted by a federal mediator.

But workers briefly returned to picket lines on Tuesday afternoon after the union caucus rejected the four-year contract.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board ruled that was unlawful and ordered members to cease and desist from strike action until proper 72-hour notice had been given. It said the union’s position was that it didn’t need to provide notice since there was an ongoing strike.

Trudeau convened the incident response group, which only convenes at times of national crisis, or to discuss events with major implications for Canada. Consisting of Cabinet ministers and senior officials, it has previously been convened over events including the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and blockades associated with the Freedom Convoy movement last year.

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association says the notice means strike action could resume from about 9 a.m. Saturday.

Federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra issued a statement late Tuesday saying workers and employers across Canada cannot face further disruption and that they were looking at all options.

British Columbia Premier David Eby said relying on Ottawa to bring in back-to-work legislation would not be a quick solution.

Opposition Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Trudeau must end the strike immediately because of the massive cost to workers, consumers and businesses.

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