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

Historian happily surprised about Morden Mine funding

What took so long for support for restoration work, asks columnist

Lantzville looking to ban beach fires as youths aren’t respecting beaches

Lantzville the only municipality south of Comox Valley that allows beach fires, district staff say

NDSS 50th reunion planned this spring

Organizing committee looking to reach Nanaimo grads from the Class of 1969

Upgrades planned for Gabriola ferry terminal

Plans call for new loading ramp, creation of a vehicle holding area and new terminal building

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Earth Day in Nanaimo celebrates the Earth and its inhabitants

Plant a tree, pet a wolf, and see grand opening of Georgia Greenway at Nanaimo Earth Day festival

City of Nanaimo ‘100 per cent’ on board with privacy commissioner recommendations

Council satisfied with how private and confidential information will be handled moving forward

Editorial: Climate change is a good reason to cast a vote

Different choices around climate action and inaction will be on the ballot in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Fisheries and oceans minister spends Earth Day in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Jonathan Wilkinson in riding to support candidate Michelle Corfield

Climate action can’t be a partisan issue, say Greens

Green Party of Canada celebrated Earth Day early in Nanaimo

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Most Read