Impacts of longshoremen strike felt on Vancouver Island

Impacts of longshoremen strike felt on Vancouver Island

Longshoremen in Nanaimo were on the picket line Wednesday as their union’s strike reached its fifth day.

The union says contracting out, automation and cost of living are the three outstanding issues in reaching a deal with the employer.

While the longshoremen are allowing cruise ships to continue to Victoria, other impacts are being felt.

The Grand Pioneer had 600 vehicles longshoremen were going to unload in Nanaimo’s Port. Instead, in light of the strike, they were unloaded in Portland, Oregon before the ship headed back to Japan.

In Port Alberni, longshoremen are also on the picket line. Some cargo from pulp and paper manufacturer Paper Excellence remains in a warehouse behind the picket line.

READ ALSO: B.C. port strike enters day five, with talks deadlocked over maintenance

“I spoke with the mill manager and asked him whether he needs that one or not and how important that is for their operation, and they told me that they’ll be able to manage without it at this point,” said Zoran Knezevic, president and CEO of the Port Alberni Port Authority.

The next load out of Port Alberni’s port isn’t scheduled until July 25, but the impacts will likely be felt sooner.

“People producing lumber also aquaculture, frozen fish that will be affected through Port of Vancouver. Some of the product that is trucked from here to the lower mainland probably will be affected by not being able to export it out,” said Knezevic, who hopes a contract is reached sooner than later.

In Victoria, a non-profit that helps gather and send shipments of food, education supplies, sewing and health equipment to developing countries is also impacted.

A container destined for Ghana is now in Vancouver.

“It is sitting there and it will wait until the port opens and we get another booking, so we’re not sure how long that will be,” said Dell Marie Wergeland, President of the Compassionate Resource Warehouse.

Volunteers are now getting another container ready for Zimbabwe that’s supposed to meet a Canadian health team heading over to perform surgeries.

“They may not be able to go. People will not get their surgery. Kids won’t start school, so it’s very difficult because the need doesn’t go away just cause there’s a strike,” said Wergeland.

Wergeland added they’re already having to limit donations and if the strike drags on, the charity may have to stop its operations.

The most recent bargaining update said maintenance is the outstanding issue that has the two sides divided.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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