(Vancouver) The federal government will continue to press both sides to end the B.C. ports strike, Justin Trudeau said Friday, as the work stoppage continued for a seventh daytime.
The premier, who is in Calgary, said he was aware of the strike’s impact on prairie producers.
About 7,400 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada have been on strike since Saturday in about 30 ports in British Columbia.
There is currently no indication that the impasse will be resolved as talks broke down on Monday.
The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association urges the union to resume negotiations through a “voluntary process of mediation and arbitration”, while the union accuses employers of trying to get the government to do his “dirty work”.
Mr. Trudeau said the best deals are made at the negotiating table and that he knows “there is a solution.”
“But I also know that the pressure is mounting day by day and people are really, really worried about what things might become next week, and so are we,” Trudeau said.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said Friday the port strike was causing “extreme hardship” for producers and exporters in her province.
She mentioned that she had written to Mr. Trudeau asking him to recall Parliament in order to end the strike.
Alberta Transportation Minister Devin Dreeshen had earlier asked the federal government to consider back-to-work legislation.
Opposition members of the BC legislature have added their voices to business groups and politicians demanding action to end the strike.
A statement released Friday by BC United’s Greg Kyllo and Ben Stewart says NDP Premier David Eby must ask the federal government to intervene in the labor dispute.
“While other provincial premiers have expressed concern, Premier David Eby and NDP Labor Minister Harry Bains have remained silent as the effects of the strike continue to escalate,” said Mr. Kyllo in the release.
The British Columbia Maritime Employers Association, which represents port officials, issued a statement Thursday saying it had been made aware of layoffs in related industries due to industrial action and that the strike had potentially disrupted 4.6 billion freight.
The BC Forest Industries Council was also calling for federal intervention if stevedores and port employers did not come to a quick resolution.
The organization’s chief economist, Kurt Niquidet, said some logging companies were considering rail or truck shipments to get their timber to the United States, but that was not an option for companies that needed access to Asian markets.
Longshoremen who are members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike for better wages and provisions against contracting out and automation, but negotiations stalled on Monday over interview questions.
The union president told a solidarity rally on Thursday that the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association walked away from the table three times.
Rob Ashton told the crowd that employers were waiting for the federal government to do its “dirty work instead of treating workers with respect” by negotiating.
Federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan is urging both sides to use mediators and resume talks.