(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan said negotiators have made progress toward a deal to end a strike by dockworkers at some of Canada’s busiest ports and he’s asked a mediator to get a final agreement done.
The strike, which began July 1, has blocked the flow of goods through major maritime hubs on the Pacific coast, including at the Port of Vancouver and Port of Prince Rupert. The disruption has already hampered the exports of commodities and inbound shipments of manufacturing materials, while fertilizer giant Nutrien Ltd. is curtailing production at a potash mine.
“After 11 days of a work stoppage, I have decided that the difference between the employer’s and the union’s positions is not sufficient to justify a continued work stoppage,” O’Regan said in a Twitter post. A deal is within reach and he has asked the senior federal mediator to send a written proposal of settlement terms within 24 hours, he said.
Once the minister receives the terms of settlement, he’ll forward them to the International Longshore & Warehouse Union and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association, which will then have 24 hours to decide whether to recommend that deal to their members.
Separately, the Canadian Labour Congress sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging his government to allow the sides to finish bargaining and warning that legislation to force ILWU members back to work would be met with “strong resistance from the entire labor movement.”
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, a lobby group, has estimated the strike is disrupting C$500 million ($379 million) of trade per day, but the effects of extended port shutdown would ripple worldwide. Canada is the world’s largest producer of potash, and British Columbia is entering a key season for food exports.
A survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business published on Tuesday found that about half of business owners said the strike would affect their operations. Vancouver is also a major conduit for imports of consumer goods from Asia.
Read More: Canada Braces for Pacific Port Congestion to Widen: Supply Lines
(Updates with union comment in sixth paragraph)
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