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Canada port strikes could see congestion and shift to airfreight

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Ongoing strike action at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert in Canada hasn’t yet resulted in a shift of cargo from sea to air, but there could be disruption to supply chains yet, the Airforwarders Association (AfA) has warned.

Over 7,000 dockworkers belonging to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) went on strike on July 1 after they failed to reach an agreement with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA).

Speaking exclusively to Air Cargo News, AfA executive director Brandon Fried said that if the strike action continues then airports in Canada and the US could see an influx of diverted cargo in an effort by shippers to avoid congestion and delays.

Fried explained on July 7: “At this point, Airforwarders Association members are reporting no significant shifts in cargo away from the west coast Canadian ports affected by the strike.

“Still, they monitor the situation closely and consider diversions to other destinations if the strike drags on. This past week has been short, and traffic volumes are low, thanks to the holiday and lower demand, so we may not see a substantial impact until next week.

“We are particularly concerned about reports of US port workers refusing to unload diverted vessels destined for Canada coming to the US instead.

“We hope that the Canadian government will step in soon to intervene before the situation worsens. If not, airports in Canada and the US will likely see substantial volume increases as shippers try to avoid those ports affected while keeping their products moving.”

The US west coast chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has said workers won’t handle vessels diverted to the Port of Seattle from the Port of Vancouver, which could see supply chain congestion hit the US.

And a release from ILWU Canada on July 6 claimed that the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) are not engaged in negotiations to end the industrial action and are instead focusing on a media “smear campaign”.

Rob Ashton, ILWU Canada president said: “We’re telling the BCMEA to call off their attack campaign and come back to mediation. We’re willing to look past the smears and insults if it means we can return to the place where respectful negotiations and an honest deal can happen: the bargaining table.”

However, on July 8, the BCMEA said talks had resumed.

According to ILWU Canada, free collective bargaining between ILWU Canada and the BCMEA has been ongoing since February of this year in an attempt to renew the industry-wide collective agreement which expired on March 31.

“We encourage both parties to immediately return to the bargaining table and remain there until a deal is reached,” the Canadian Government’s Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan said on Twitter on July 4.

In June, the Pacific Maritime Association and the ILWU announced a tentative agreement on a new six-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports.

US port workers reach tentative agreement

CMA CGM Air Cargo faces disruption with threat of pilot strike

 

The post Canada port strikes could see congestion and shift to airfreight appeared first on Air Cargo News.

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