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Union in Canadian province of British Columbia rescinds port strike notice after Trudeau meeting

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has met with top officials after the longshore union renewed a 72-hour strike notice

Canada Port Strike

Gantry cranes sit idle as a container ship is docked at port during a work stoppage, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, July 19, 2023. British Columbia port employers say the longshore workers’ union has given 72-hour notice of renewed strike action starting on Saturday morning. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with top officials Wednesday after the longshore union renewed a 72-hour strike notice. The notice was later rescinded by the union which shut down ports on Canada’s west coast earlier this month for nearly two weeks.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada said late Wednesday in a brief note to its locals in British Columbia that the strike notice set for July 22 at 9 a.m. “has now been removed.”

With the 72-hour notice lifted, the union can’t resume strike action unless it files another notice, according to the Canada Industrial Relations Board decision issued against the union on Wednesday.

The previous strike shut down British Columbia ports for 13 days at the start of the month, stalling cargo worth billions.

About 7,400 workers at more than 30 British Columbia port terminals and other sites began striking on July 1 and originally returned to work last Thursday after a tentative deal was drafted by a federal mediator.

But workers briefly returned to picket lines on Tuesday afternoon after the union caucus rejected the four-year contract.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board ruled that was unlawful and ordered members to cease and desist from strike action until proper 72-hour notice had been given. It said the union’s position was that it didn’t need to provide notice since there was an ongoing strike.

Trudeau convened the incident response group, which only convenes at times of national crisis, or to discuss events with major implications for Canada. Consisting of Cabinet ministers and senior officials, it has previously been convened over events including the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and blockades associated with the Freedom Convoy movement last year.

Federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra issued a statement late Tuesday saying workers and employers across Canada cannot face further disruption and that they were looking at all options.

British Columbia Premier David Eby said relying on Ottawa to bring in back-to-work legislation would not be a quick solution.

Opposition Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Trudeau must end the strike immediately because of the massive cost to workers, consumers and businesses.

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