July 19, 2023 | Circular No. 11559

Dear Member,

Further to yesterday’s message regarding the resumption of strike activity at Canada’s west coast ports, please see the most recent updates we have received following meetings with the BCMEA, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Transport Canada:

Status of Strike Action

  • Pursuant to a motion filed by the BCMEA yesterday evening, the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) declared the ILWU strike illegal at 7:30 AM this morning.
  • However, the ILWU subsequently issued a new 72-hour strike notice, under which the strike will legally resume at 9:00 AM (PST) Saturday morning.
  • Although this theoretically means that longshore workers should return to their shifts later today and continue to work over the next three days, it is highly uncertain how this will play out between now and Saturday morning and what kind of pressure tactics union members may exert during this period.

Port Operations

  • The Port of Vancouver reports that the ILWU will be holding a union meeting later today, meaning that the first available shift will not come on stream until 1:00 AM (PST).
  • Anchorage capacity is still relatively fluid, although this will be closely monitored over the coming days.
  • For its part, the Port of Prince Rupert reports that all pickets were down by 08:30 this morning and that no union meetings have been scheduled for tonight.
  • As was previously the case, both grain shipments and cruise activity will continue to be serviced by the ILWU.
  • Both CN and CPKC will be communicating their operational plans and adjustments directly to customers.

Government Options & Stakeholder Advocacy

  • Transport Canada reports that the government is considering all options for resolving this situation and is keenly aware of the cumulative and profound impacts of this ongoing disruption.
  • This being said, other than introducing back-to-work legislation, the only other option the Labour Minister has at his disposal is to bypass the ILWU leadership by taking the tentative agreement that was reached last week directly to the union membership for a vote.  However, this is generally viewed as a risky option that could take several weeks to carry out (with no guarantee of success).  Consequently, calls for the government to reconvene Parliament in order to introduce back-to-work legislation have intensified from all sectors.
  • The Federation sent the attached LETTER to the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Labour and Transport earlier today, and will follow this up with additional messaging to individual MPS and via traditional and social media.  Members who wish to add their voice to these efforts are strongly encouraged to do so.

Next Steps

  • Transport Canada has resumed its daily calls with stakeholders, which are designed to provide an overview of the operational impacts of the work stoppage from a port, terminal rail and shipowner perspective.
  • We will continue to participate in these calls and to report news and developments back to members as warranted.


Karen Kancens
Vice President