(Vancouver) Talks between maritime employers and the union representing BC port workers remain deadlocked over maintenance issues as the strike entered its fifth day on Wednesday.

Both sides issued statements clarifying that the issue of the interview was blocking the talks. More than 7,000 workers at 30 ports in British Columbia have been on strike since Saturday morning.

The union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, says its maintenance jurisdiction is being eroded by the use of contract workers, and the main problem is employers’ refusal to accept “one sentence” of an interview document.

For its part, the British Columbia Maritime Employers’ Association (BCMEA) says the union is trying to “aggressively expand” its control of maintenance duties well beyond an agreement which, according to the association, has been “legally well-established for decades”.

It says unionized workers are already unable to perform the duties within their jurisdiction and that changing the rules would have “immediate and significant impacts” at the ports.

Business organizations as well as representatives from Alberta and Saskatchewan have called on Ottawa to intervene and end the strike, but federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan has said he wants that the union and the employers return to the bargaining table.