Statement from the ILWU Canada Longshore Bargaining Committee

Published: 5 Jul 2023

JULY 4 2023

On July 3, 2023, while the Union was at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) waiting for a response from the employer we received a message from the mediators, that the BCMEA walked away from the table. The Union delivered a message to the federal mediators that the Union will not walk away from negotiations, we are available every day, at any hour of the day. We expressed to the mediators our disappointment that the BCMEA had abandoned talks.

The BCMEA is accusing the Union of attempting to aggressively expand on it’s jurisdiction over regular maintenance work. This is completely false and evidence that the Association is deaf to the real and legitimate concerns of the Union.

The key issue that is holding up getting a deal is contracting out of ILWU maintenance work by member employers of the BCMEA and the refusal of the Association and its member companies to agree on a regular maintenance document that is all but complete – except for one sentence.

Our jurisdiction in maintenance has been aggressively eroded by member employers by using 3rd party contractors. This is not an issue of cost for the direct employers because they already pay for this work to be done by maintenance contracting companies. In fact, using ILWU skilled trades employees will be more cost effective and will result in a higher quality of work because of their industry experience and competency.

Neither is this an issue of the Union being unable to supply skilled trades. It is an unwillingness of the employers to properly utilize our trades workers. We already have sufficient numbers of registered trades workers to meet the demands of the industry and we continue to recruit more. The issue is that the BCMEA member employers refuse to utilize them or train them as required. The BCMEA is well aware of the commitment the Union has already made in bargaining on how to improve trades utilization, but they have refused to acknowledge the solution.

In an effort to find a way forward the ILWU Canada bargaining committee met with federal mediators earlier today. We proposed a meeting with four of our direct employers to discuss with them directly a possible solution to the maintenance issue in the hopes of moving these negotiations forward.

The Union requested to meet directly with the following Presidents and CEOs:

  • Eric Waltz - Global Container Terminals Canada
  • Douglas Smith - DP World Canada
  • Craig Olley - Neptune Terminals, and
  • Don Nonis - Pembina (also Chair of the BCMEA Board).


The Mediators delivered that message to the BCMEA this morning, but we have had no response by the time of this release.

We support Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan’s call today to immediately return to the bargaining table and remain until a deal is reached, so we call on the BCMEA to get back to the table and do the hard work necessary to reach an agreement. If the Association will not negotiate, we call on the member employers to negotiate directly with the Union. A negotiated settlement is possible, and we are capable of getting the job done.

Rob Ashton

President – ILWU Canada


Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney