Some relief for cruise ship industry as longshoremen strike looms

Some relief for cruise ship industry as longshoremen strike looms

A contract impasse between B.C.’s longshoremen and their employer could have widespread ramifications not only for the province but for Vancouver Island.

With four cruise ships berthing at Ogden point Victoria was flooded with tourists Thursday.

Cruise ship tie-up, passenger gangplanks, and taking baggage and supplies on and off the big boats is the work of longshoremen.

But they are poised to walk off the job Saturday morning, leading to concern from B.C.’s Premier about the potential, far-reaching impacts of a strike.

“To see the potential of the strike to cause even further costs for British Columbians is very concerning to me at a time British Columbians can not afford that,” said David Eby, in response to a question Wednesday.

But for the cruise industry itself some good news today that they should be spared.

“There’s been some verbal assurance that should a strike occur the ILW leadership will instruct their members not to target cruise but instead continue to service cruise ships that call on Victoria,” said Barry Penner, legal advisor to the Cruise Lines International Association.

“It’s looking more positive than it would’ve 24 hours ago,” said Robert Lewis-Manning, CEO of the Greater Victoria Habour Authority.

The Authority is echoing the relief from the cruise industry but it warns that’s one sliver of good news in what could otherwise be a serious situation.

“This union services all ports in British Columbia so the importance of finding an agreement is high. Obviously there’s a lot more cargo ships that could be impacted than cruise ships so any type of disruptions will have impacts both locally, regionally and nationally,” said Lewis-Manning.

Meanwhile in Nanaimo, the log loading that taking place in its port is also at risk. This is just one of many examples of the type of work that would come to a stop if longshoremen walked off their jobs Saturday.

A ship there, The Gold River, is leaving today, but another ship with 600 vehicles that’s scheduled to arrive in Nanaimo would be in limbo.

Ian Marr, the head of Nanaimo’s Port Authority says he’s not sure if it would hold at sea.

And a ship that takes containers between Nanaimo and the mainland twice weekly would also be impacted.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union says its contract with the BC Maritime Employers Association expired March 31 and outstanding issues include contracting out, port automation and cost of living.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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