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Railway puts temporary embargo on Vancouver, on day five of B.C. port strike

Canadian Pacific Kansas City, formerly CP Rail, says the company is ‘closely monitoring’ developments
Striking International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada workers picket at a port entrance in Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday, July 4, 2023. Talks between maritime employers and the union representing British Columbia port workers remain deadlocked over maintenance issues as a strike by the workers enters its fifth day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A major North American railway says it has placed “temporary embargoes” on export traffic to the Port of Vancouver, as a strike at British Columbia ports drags into its fifth day with no signs of a breakthrough.

Patrick Waldon, with Canadian Pacific Kansas City, formerly known as CP Rail, says the company is “closely monitoring” developments and is in direct communication with customers about the strike.

Waldon says in a statement that the railway, formed when CP acquired Kansas City Southern earlier this year, wants a “swift resolution” to protect North American supply chains and Canada’s economy.

He says embargoes have been issued for the Port of Vancouver, in a way that is “allowing traffic to move west while protecting network fluidity.”

Talks between the BC Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada remain deadlocked over maintenance issues, leaving more than 7,000 workers at 30 ports across B.C. on strike since Saturday morning.

Both sides have issued statements singling out a maintenance deal as the reason talks stalled Monday.

“Negotiations are still paused, however, the BCMEA remains ready to re-engage at a moment’s notice, assuming ILWU Canada is prepared to present a reasonable proposal,” the employers association said in an email Wednesday.

The union said Tuesday that its jurisdiction over maintenance is being eroded by the use of contractors, and the key issue is the refusal of employers to agree to “one sentence” of a maintenance document.

The employers association meanwhile said the union was trying to “aggressively expand” its control of maintenance duties far beyond an agreement that the association says has been “legally well established for decades.”

It said union workers were already unable to fulfil duties over which they have jurisdiction, and changing the rules would have “immediate and significant impacts” at ports.

Business organizations, as well as officials in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, have called on Ottawa to step in and end the strike, but federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan says he wants the union and employers to go back to the negotiating table.

READ ALSO: Port strike will have ‘dire’ effect on supply chain: BC Chamber of Commerce

READ ALSO: B.C. port strike enters day five, with talks deadlocked over maintenance

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