The union representing port workers in British Columbia says it has issued 72-hour strike notice and its members are ready to walk off the job on Saturday.
The strike notice affects more than 7,000 terminal cargo loaders at 30 B.C. ports.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU Canada) says its members voted 99.24 per cent in favour of strike action earlier this month against the B.C. Maritime Employers Association.
The association represents 49 private-sector employers across B.C., who ship everything from automobiles and coal to grain and containers.
Contracting out, port automation and cost of living are key issues behind the union’s strike notice.
“Longshore workers kept this province and the country running during the pandemic, and when Canadians were told to shelter in place, our people went to work,” a statement from ILWU Canada said.
“We worked in difficult and hazardous conditions to ensure that the communities where we live, and all Canadians, had the necessary supplies and personal protective equipment to defend against the COVID-19 virus.”
The two sides had been in a cooling-off period but that ended on June 21, after the previous contract expired on March 30.
The Maritime Employers Association has not commented on the strike notice, but said in a statement Tuesday that both sides continue to meet with the assistance of a federal mediator and that bargaining was expected to go into next week.
A trade analyst has said the potential strike could have dire consequences for not only the Canadian economy, but globally, as well.