Dockers’ strike stalled after St. John’s Shipping Association files essential service claim

ST. JOHN’S, NL — The union representing St. John’s dockworkers says the St. John’s Shipping Association has filed a claim alleging workers are providing an essential service ahead of an impending strike.

Local 1953 of the Longshoremen’s Protection Union (LSPU) says the employer has filed a request with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), saying a strike could endanger the safety and health of the public .

Dockworkers voted for industrial action in March and were in a position to strike after a 21-day cooling-off period ended on April 11.

However, the union can no longer give strike notice until the CIRB has ruled on the request.

LSPU President Chris Gosse said several key issues still need to be resolved as part of the bargaining process.

“Our strong strike mandate reflects the seriousness of rank and file members in seeking a fair deal, it is a blocking tactic by the employer and it shows they are not bargaining in good faith,” said Kid. “We have yet to see a serious commitment from the St. John’s Shipping Association to address our members’ issues. The right to strike is a Charter right, and the employer is using the cordon to avoid paying Newfoundland stevedores equivalent wages, pension and health benefits paid to load and unload the same ships in the Canadian ports.

The LPSU said it was trying to get the same rate of pay that the employer is paying in Montreal and Halifax to do the same work on the same ships.

“Why can’t Newfoundlanders be paid the same as other longshoremen in the rest of Canada for the exact same work? said Kid.

Veronica J. Snell