B.C. ports’ job action could reignite if automation isn’t addressed: expert

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An master says a narrowly averted labour stoppage astatine British Columbia ports could re-emerge contempt national involution unless nan halfway rumor of automation and its threat to national jobs is addressed.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board ordered connected Sunday that nan national representing vessel and dock foremen astatine B.C. ports rescind a onslaught announcement against DP World Canada that would person started occupation action connected Monday.

McGill University Associate Prof. Barry Eidlin says while onslaught action was averted this time, nan halfway rumor of automation astatine nan ports remains unaddressed.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 514 said successful June that DP World Canada told nan national it was introducing automation successful nan loading and unloading of cargo containers astatine its Centerm installation astatine nan Port of Vancouver.

The national has been negotiating pinch nan B.C. Maritime Employers Association connected a caller corporate agreement, and nan labour relations committee ruled nan onslaught announcement was forbidden because a onslaught ballot only progressive labor of DP World.

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Eidlin says if nan employers don’t activity pinch nan national connected uncovering a palatable solution, it would not beryllium astonishing for nan section to scope a position wherever it’s members tin legally strike, which could travel “in a fewer weeks aliases a fewer months.”

“Forcing workers backmost to activity aliases trying to restrain their Charter-protected correct to onslaught is not going to resoluteness nan underlying issues,” Eidlin says.

DP World Canada referred a petition for remark to its employers association, which declined to make a connection because nan automation rumor will beryllium heard by nan Canada Industrial Relations Board astatine hearings resuming connected Aug. 6.

The maritime employers had issued what they called a “defensive action” successful consequence to Local 514’s onslaught notice, threatening to fastener retired each of nan union’s members astatine companies represented by nan relation if nan onslaught against DP World Canada went ahead.

The industry-wide lockout announcement crossed B.C.’s ports was rescinded pursuing nan board’s determination connected nan onslaught announcement against DP World Canada.

Strike action successful 2023 by thousands of workers unopen down astir of B.C.’s ports for 13 days, freezing billions successful waste and acquisition astatine nan docks.

Eidlin says nan persisting tensions astatine B.C. ports betwixt employers and workers look to beryllium a continuation of animosity from past year’s conflict betwixt nan employers and nan longshore union.

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Eidlin says some nan onslaught past twelvemonth and nan existent labour conflict person shown that larboard employers are taking a “more aggressive” reside pinch nan unions, which are historically consenting to frighten occupation action and whitethorn beryllium viewed by immoderate arsenic “combative.”

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He says if nan union’s allegation that DP World was “unilaterally” imposing activity conditions without consulting workers is true, nan local’s determination to rumor a onslaught announcement whitethorn person been seen arsenic “the only action they person available.”

“These are life-or-death issues some successful position of nan substance, successful nan consciousness that larboard automation is simply a halfway rumor that is going to person melodramatic effects connected workers’ lives … and successful position of nan form, successful nan consciousness that allowing employers to instrumentality unilateral changes successful moving conditions is simply a sedate usurpation of halfway principles of really corporate bargaining should work.”

Liam McHugh-Russell, an adjunct professor astatine Dalhousie University, agrees that different onslaught announcement successful nan ongoing labour conflict is imaginable if nan halfway questions of automation aren’t addressed betwixt employers and employees.

But he says he isn’t worried astir nan reside of labour relations deteriorating astatine B.C. ports, arsenic nan onslaught and lockout notices are an denotation that nan speech process is moving arsenic intended.

“The national is specifically concerned astir nan practices of 1 employer, but fixed nan building of nan bargaining narration and nan building of nan (labour code), it’s not wrong their powerfulness to bargain aliases discuss straight pinch that azygous employer,” McHugh-Russell says.

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“Given nan rumor is pinch 1 employer, it makes consciousness that they whitethorn springiness that a try,” he says of nan latest onslaught notice. “They were pushing against nan boundaries of nan (labour code) … and certainly, location was important consequence of disruption.”

&copy 2024 The Canadian Press

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