Strike cuts Vancouver boxship calls almost in half

Strike cuts Vancouver boxship calls almost in half

A strike by tug boat operators has cut nearly in half the scheduled containership calls at the Port of Vancouver.

"No containers are moving at Deltaport, in or out, and the terminal is looking at curtailing receiving export containers in by rail to avoid congestion on the docks," as of noon Monday, said Chris Badger, vice-president for operations of the Vancouver Port Authority.

Deltaport is about 25 miles from Vancouver's inner harbor, where the Vanterm and Centerm box hubs are still being worked by tugs under a different contract.

Seven of 15 weekly scheduled containership calls at Vancouver are at Deltaport, said Bob Hayter, the VPA's ship operations manager.

No new negotiations have been scheduled with 800 masters, mates and engineers operating tugs and barges in lower British Columbia, who walked out Friday in a contract dispute with port employers.

Badger said the strike will have little effect on efforts by Canadian Pacific Railway to clear a container backlog at Vancouver. It was unclear what effect the strike would have on Canadian National Railway, which serves Deltaport.

There were also service disruptions at the two Roberts Banks terminals and at the Fraser-Surrey docks, downriver from Vancouver, where deep-sea ship traffic was down by about 80 percent.

The union representing tug and barge employees want wage increases and benefits worth about 16 percent over three years. Employers have offered about 13.75 percent.