Vancouver longshore workers set to strike at Deltaport, Vanterm container port terminals

Longshore workers are reportedly planning to stage a walk-out strike on May 27 at two major Port of Vancouver container terminals.

Officials from GCT Global Container Terminals Inc. - which operates GCT Deltaport at Roberts Bank and Vanterm in Vancouver - have confirmed that International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) issued a strike notice at 4 p.m. Thursday, but referred further comments to the BC Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).

Jeff Scott, chairs of the BCMEA, said he was disappointed when his group received the strike notice, but added they are committed to continue the negotiation process - and will effort to avoid any disruptions to the operations at Port of Vancouver (which has shown to have major potential implications, even for local commerce not directly involved with Deltaport or Vanterm).

"We are prepared to negotiate through the weekend," Scott said.

ILWU representatives were in contract negotiations and were unavailable for comment.

The ILWU said earlier this month that the membership had voted overwhelmingly to authorize a walk-out. The union is in federally mediated contract talks with the BCMEA, and 6,000 workers - most of whom belonging to ILWU Canada - have been without a formal contract since the old agreement expired in March 2018.

Reports estimate that about 2,000 workers will walk off the job on March 27 if a new deal is not reached by that time. GCT Deltaport is Vancouver’s largest container terminal. It annually handles approximately 1.8 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), and Vanterm’s capacity isn’t far behind (850,000 TEUs).

Vancouver, Canada's largest port, handled 3.4 million TEUs in 2018 - a record high. Approximately $200 billion worth of goods from 170 world economies move through the port each year.