Several ports on the west coast of Canada, including Vancouver, the country’s largest, have been inactive since Saturday morning due to a labor dispute that could affect the global transport of goods.

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After months of fruitless negotiations, more than 7,000 terminal shippers and 49 employers from 30 ports went on strike.Subcontracting, port automation and the cost of living are the main demands of the International Union of Stevedores and Warehousemen.

«We don’t make this decision lightly, but we will use it for the future of our workforce,» said Rob Ashton, president of the union’s Canadian chapter. Ashton, however, said he was optimistic about the signing of a «collective agreement for the rights of the working class,» he added in a statement.

His collective agreement expired on March 31. For its part, the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association said it had «tried several times to show flexibility and find compromise on key priorities,» but to no avail. «We appreciate the assistance provided by the federal mediators to the parties and remain open to any solution that leads to a balanced agreement,» he said in a statement.

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On Friday, the association indicated that a possible strike would not affect cruise ships that dock in Vancouver, Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island. Members of the Maritime Employers Association transport all types of merchandise bound for Canada and the United States, from cars to coal, grain and containers.

If it continues, this strike could have significant repercussions in the North American market, but also in the world. More than 500 million Canadian dollars (377 million US dollars) of merchandise transit each day through the ports involved, the association said on its website, that is, 16% of the merchandise exchanged by Canada every year.

The port of Vancouver alone supports the trade of approximately $305 billion worth of merchandise per year and contributes $11.9 billion to Canada’s GDP.


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