Seaspan tugs shepherd a large container ship inbound to Deltaport.

Seaspan tugs shepherd a large container ship inbound to Deltaport.

Port shipping may be crippled by tug boat strike

Unions representing tug crews, captains hold strike vote over Seaspan's new terms

Unionized tug boat crews are threatening to go on strike against employer Seaspan in a move that could cripple shipping through several B.C. ports.

Local 400 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union holds a strike vote Tuesday and tug boat captains and engineers represented by the Canadian Merchant Service Guild hold their own strike vote Wednesday.

Union leaders say Seaspan is attempting to impose harsh concessions on their more than 400 members following the expiry of their contract last fall.

Local 400 president Terry Engler said crews may be deemed under the federal labour code to accept the new contract if they show up for work, adding the union won’t take that chance.

“Seaspan will have picket lines up before June 9 if it continues down this reckless road,” Engler said.

Seaspan tugs aid freighters, tankers and other vessels entering and exiting port terminals in Vancouver Harbour, at Deltaport, in Victora and elsewhere on the B.C. coast. A strike could disrupt container imports, as well as exports of oil, sulphur, potash, lumber and coal.

The new seven-year contract would provide one per cent pay increases in each of the first four years, followed by 1.5 per cent each year after that.

Engler said the contentious terms include Seaspan’s aim of slashing its benefits costs by more than half and gaining more flexibility to contract work out or revise shift scehduling.

In an emailed statement, Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitford said the company is no longer cost competitive against “aggressive” rivals and the revised employment terms are “necessary changes to improve our competitive position and ensure our future viability.”

Whitford said savings from the new contract would either flow to customers via lower rates or be reinvested into the fleet, which needs an injection of more than $500 million.

The strike votes come on the heels of a 28-day strike earlier this year by container truckers.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

Paragliders worked to capture a big enough gust to get them flying near Clover Point Saturday. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents dive in and take flight under sunny skies

Warm, sunny weather had people flocking outside Saturday

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels after found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

Most Read