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B.C. port workers reach tentative deal: BCMEA

Months of talks to prevent a strike at Canada’s West Coast ports have led to a tentative deal, according to the port employers’ group.

The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) announced in a memo on its website Friday that it had reached what it called a “tentative settlement” with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada (ILWU) Local 514.

The deal is still subject to ratification by both the BCMEA and the ILWU membership, BCMEA vice-president Greg Vurdela said in the memo.

A new collective agreement would cover about 450 dock and ship workers at port facilities on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and also at Prince Rupert.

Companies that rely on B.C.’s West Coast ports for imports and exports have reportedly already been diverting traffic away from B.C. since a strike by ILWU members became a possibility.

Such a strike would have no impact on bulk grain movement, but would likely affect Canada’s pulse crop and special crop exports, many of which are shipped through West Coast ports by container.

Pressure for employers to settle was alleviated somewhat when the House of Commons returned to session in Ottawa late last month, reviving the possibility that striking port and dock employees could be legislated back to work.

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