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'This is going to get worse before it gets better': Shipyard workers vote overwhelmingly in favour of strike


A large-scale strike by Seaspan workers at the Esquimalt Graving Dock is a real possibility after an overwhelming vote in favour of a strike mandate by unionized workers.

According to the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, a vote Thursday came back with 98 per cent in favour of a strike mandate.

“This is going to get worse before it gets better,” said Local 191 spokesperson Robert Taylor.

According to the union, this vote sends a clear message to their employer about how upset workers are, although it does not necessarily launch a strike.

Friday morning, Local 191 issued the results of their strike mandate vote to Seaspan.

Union representatives say they expect a response by Monday next week.

They also say if the results of the vote don’t lead to meaningful discussion and contract negotiation, they could issue a 72-hour strike notice and eventually walk off the job as soon as late next week.

“(Seaspan’s) method of bargaining is a one-sided approach. They aren’t reasonable,” said Taylor.

As many as 1,400 workers from 11 different trade unions could take job action, ranging from boilermakers to electricians to sheet metal workers.

Members say they're upset with Seaspan's latest offer for a new contract, which they say would reduce breaks, adjust work weeks, and doesn't keep up with inflation.

CTV News has reached out to Seaspan for a comment on the results of this vote. A response is expected Friday afternoon.

Seaspan Victoria's operations include maintenance and repair for cruise ships and ferries, as well as work on frigates and submarines for Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

The navy base says it doesn't want to get in the middle of the dispute, and that it's investigating what a possible strike could mean for the base. It says a strike could result in adjusting work schedules and maintenance on its vessels. 


This story has been updated to clarify that the Seaspan does not own the Esquimalt Graving Dock. The dock is federally owned and the company is one of several that operates there. Top Stories

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