Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Carriers Divert Ships from Vancouver

(Pacific Shipper)

The diversion of container ships from Canada’s west coast Port Metro Vancouver has become “significant” as marathon collective bargaining continues between waterfront employers and union foremen.

Another in a series of day-long bargaining sessions between the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 514 ended on January 9 with “some issues resolved – it was a positive thing, a cause for some optimism,” BCMEA Vice President Greg Vurdela said in an interview.

Talks were scheduled to resume on January 15 under federal mediation.While the bargaining has continued at a leisurely pace, with five and six days between meetings, the threat of a strike or lockout being called on three days’ notice has spurred nervous shipping lines to divert their vessels from Vancouver to regional rivals such as Tacoma and Seattle.

“Cargo in this atmosphere of uncertainty is clearly not coming to ports of British Columbia that would have been coming here,” Vurdela said. “That began in mid- to third-week- December, and it’s not just a few ships,” Vurdela said, without giving specific numbers. “It’s a significant number of ships, and it does have an economic impact.” Read more here.