The strike at British Columbia’s ports may soon be at an end.
The BC Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, given 24 hours to consider the proposed settlement terms, reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year deal.
The outcome has been welcomed by Canfor, one of the world’s largest forest companies, running out of space to store its pulp and engineered wood product as the strike by dock workers hit the key ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert.
President and CEO Kevin Edgson said the dispute affected roughly 70% of its pulp products destined for Asia.
Canfor spokesperson Michelle Ward said earlier this week the company was poised to continue with plans to curtail operations down to a skeleton crew.
“When we can restart the mill, employees will be returned to help with the process.”
This year has been difficult; over the first quarter of 2023, hundreds of workers in Prince George, Chetwynd and Houston lost their jobs after Canfor announced the closure of mills that had long served as economic backbones of their communities.
Due to declining sales and a dwindling supply of harvestable forests, dozens of other jobs have been lost elsewhere as other companies announced curtailments.
Earlier this week, Wood Central reported that 7400 union members began striking on July 1, demanding better worker protections and higher wages.
The strike brought Canada’s CAD 15 billion industry to a standstill.
After mounting calls for Ottawa to intervene, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan invoked his statutory powers under the Canada Labor Code, instructing a federal mediator to draft the terms of a recommended settlement.
In a statement yesterday, the employers’ association thanked O’Regan and the federal mediator, Peter Simpson, for their assistance in the dispute.