Seaspan tugs shepherd a large container ship inbound to Deltaport.

Seaspan tugs shepherd a large container ship inbound to Deltaport.

Port shipping may be crippled by tug boat strike

Unions representing tug crews, captains hold strike vote over Seaspan's new terms

Unionized tug boat crews are threatening to go on strike against employer Seaspan in a move that could cripple shipping through several B.C. ports.

Local 400 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union holds a strike vote Tuesday and tug boat captains and engineers represented by the Canadian Merchant Service Guild hold their own strike vote Wednesday.

Union leaders say Seaspan is attempting to impose harsh concessions on their more than 400 members following the expiry of their contract last fall.

Local 400 president Terry Engler said crews may be deemed under the federal labour code to accept the new contract if they show up for work, adding the union won’t take that chance.

“Seaspan will have picket lines up before June 9 if it continues down this reckless road,” Engler said.

Seaspan tugs aid freighters, tankers and other vessels entering and exiting port terminals in Vancouver Harbour, at Deltaport, in Victora and elsewhere on the B.C. coast. A strike could disrupt container imports, as well as exports of oil, sulphur, potash, lumber and coal.

The new seven-year contract would provide one per cent pay increases in each of the first four years, followed by 1.5 per cent each year after that.

Engler said the contentious terms include Seaspan’s aim of slashing its benefits costs by more than half and gaining more flexibility to contract work out or revise shift scehduling.

In an emailed statement, Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitford said the company is no longer cost competitive against “aggressive” rivals and the revised employment terms are “necessary changes to improve our competitive position and ensure our future viability.”

Whitford said savings from the new contract would either flow to customers via lower rates or be reinvested into the fleet, which needs an injection of more than $500 million.

The strike votes come on the heels of a 28-day strike earlier this year by container truckers.

Just Posted

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read