Canadian longshoremen ratified a watershed contract that should guarantee labor peace at the country’s Pacific Coast ports for eight years.
The contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association also calls for wage and benefit increases, with a cost of living factor during the final three years of the agreement.
Also, the contract includes a new program for maternity and paternity leave that includes employment insurance benefits.
Canada’s public and private sectors have been promoting the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert as the “Pacific Gateway” for North American trade with Asia. A growing portion of the trade involves cargo moving to and from the U.S. interior. The eight-year contract should promote that initiative by guaranteeing labor stability.
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“The interests of ILWU Canada members and the employer are aligned when it comes to having an agreement that delivers reliability and predictability in the workplace,” said Tom Dufresne, ILWU Canada president.
Previous ILWU Canada contracts had lasted for a term of three years, and reaching a settlement could be a painstakingly slow process. The last contract, for example, expired on March 31, 2010, so negotiations for the contract ratified on Wednesday have been underway for more than a year.
The agreement calls for an average wage increase of 3.5 percent every year of the contract, and a cost of living factor starting in the sixth year that will protect the purchasing power of the members if inflation exceeds the agreed-upon wage increase, the release stated. Also included are pension enhancements.
The maternity and paternity agreement that increases and extends the employment insurance benefits was also a key union demand. “Making longshore workplaces more attractive as a place of employment for women is long overdue. For the first time, longshore workers will have the support they need as they raise their families,” Dufresne said.