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B.C. ports dispute could lead automakers to send cars elsewhere, says Victoria dealer


John Kot, the president of the Kot Auto Group, which owns nine car dealerships across B.C., including three on Vancouver Island, says his business is one of thousands that are reeling from news that B.C. port workers are still off the job.

“It’s been pretty dramatic for us. There’s literally thousands and thousands of cars sitting at the port that customers can’t take delivery of that have been waiting for months,” Kot said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, longshore workers were back on the picket lines, after the union's leadership rejected a tentative deal, saying it was for too many years and didn't pay members enough.

On Wednesday, federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan called the new strike illegal. The union responded by issuing a new 72-hour strike notice, which it retracted later in the day.

By Wednesday evening, the union and its employer still weren’t at the negotiating table, as cargo continued to pile up in Nanaimo and at 30 ports across B.C., including Vancouver, where 15,000 Hyundai vehicles are waiting for their owners.

Dealers worry there may be long-term ripple effects as the job action has already disrupted about $10-billion in trade since July 1.

“The risk to us in Canada [is] losing production from the manufacturer, because manufacturers want these cars delivered to customers, so if we don’t get it resolved, the manufacturer might send them to the States,” said Kot.

In the short term, even if manufacturers don't send future business elsewhere, customers are already waiting up to nine months for electric cars and could face longer waits. Businesses have already lost sales and employees may lose their jobs, said Kot. Top Stories

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