News Local

Tugboat crews vote to strike

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

A tugboat in dry dock. (REUTERS)

A tugboat in dry dock. (REUTERS)

Tugboat crews along the coast could be watching their ships from shore starting Sunday after voting 100% in favour of strike action against Seaspan.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union local 400 said the company has attempted to unilaterally force contract changes on them.

According to a list given to media Tuesday, Seaspan wants to impose 46 changes to the contract, including scheduling meal times, lowered pension contributions and getting rid of the hiring hall. ILWU Canadian president Mark Gordienko said 105 union members employed by Seaspan voted for the strike, and he took a swipe at the company's claims the changes are needed to stay competitive.

"They pretty much have monopoly," Gordienko said. "They're the driving force in the industry and what they're saying is, 'We need to be competitive.' That means they want to drive everybody else out of business."

Yesterday, Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth said the savings would be reinvested in the fleet and passed on to customers.

Meanwhile, the company agreed to arbitration with the Canadian Merchant Services Guild, another union representing tugboat crews. The guild has agreed not to strike.


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