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US dockworkers won’t handle vessels diverted from Canada port strike

Photo: ITF 7400 workers are striking until British Columbia's port and terminal companies get serious about resolving the dispute.jpeg
Ships diverted from Canadian west coast ports to US facilities will not be handled by US ILWU longshoremen who have vowed to back the striking workers north of the border.

Hundreds of longshore workers gathered in downtown Vancouver in support of their trade union leaders as the Canadian west coast strike entered its ninth day on Sunday, with no sign of a breakthrough in negotiations between the union and port employers.

Rather than a solution to the industrial action an escalation of the dispute was announced to cheers from the striking workers.

“The ILWU will not be unloading Canadian bound cargo in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in ILWU Canada,” Willie Adams, President of the US ILWU announced yesterday.

In a massive show of strength dockers gathered in downtown Vancouver on Sunday to demonstrate in support of the nine-day old strike and were joined by trade unionists from as far as New Zealand and Australia.

Gary Herrera, from the ILWU local 13 in California told the assembled strikers: “I promise you not one ship that leaves here will get worked on in southern California.”

One ILWU Canada trade unionist told Seatrade Maritime News: “Canadian west coast Longshore workers were buoyed by support from their American sister and brother longshore workers.”

Union officials along with the employers’ organisation, the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA), entered into mediation on Saturday with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, in an effort to find a solution to the impasse between the two sides.

According to the BCMEA revised proposals have been made by the employers, but, “Regrettably, ILWU Canada has rejected these ideas to date and instead, continue to propose to aggressively expand their jurisdiction.”

ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton, however, rejected the need for government intervention in the dispute: “We don’t want the federal government to get involved in our business, we must force them to the table, we must tell them to come to the table and negotiate, not legislate,” he said.

Ashton added: “They’re lying when they say you don’t deserve the money that you make, you deserve every goddamn penny you make and we shall never apologise.”