Officers union holds fire

Seaspan Marine has struck a deal with a tug officers’ union to hold off their threatened strike in the port of Vancouver.

However, the tug operator’s pact with the Canadian Merchant Service Guild only covers masters, mates and engineers on the company’s vessels, leaving a place a strike threat by the remainder of workers on the tugs that serve Canada’s busiest port.

As part of the deal, the two sides will bring their dispute to federal mediation and Seaspan will defer implementation of its collective bargaining agreement set to go into effect on Monday, the Vancouver company said.

The union is still planning to hold a strike vote today but will delay putting its result into effect.

The memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the union forged with the union yesterday follows extensive discussions with federal Labour Minister Kellie Leitch.

As TradeWinds reported yesterday, tug crew represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 400 voted unanimously yesterday to strike. An official strike notice could come as early as tomorrow, which could see the tug service halted starting Sunday.

The unions say Seaspan is unilaterally imposing changes to a collective bargaining agreement.

Seaspan’s rival Smit Tugs is expected to pick up some of the slack if a strike takes place, but it will not be able to serve vessels at Westshore Terminals capesize coal export facility.