Negotiations continued through the night in effort to avoid B.C. port lockout

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VANCOUVER — Talks continued through the night between British Columbia’s longshore workers’ union and the association representing port employers.

A Helijet helicopter preparing to land at the harbour passes by cranes used to load and unload container ships at the DP World marine terminal at Port Metro Vancouver, in Vancouver on March 16, 2018. Talks continued through the night between British Columbia’s longshore workers union and the association representing port employers. A federal mediator imposed a news blackout as the latest round of negotiations got underway Wednesday, less than 24 hours before a lockout notice issued by the B.C. Maritime Employers Association was due to take effect. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A federal mediator imposed a news blackout as the latest round of negotiations got underway Wednesday, less than 24 hours before lockout notice issued by the B.C. Maritime Employers Association was due to take effect.

The 6,500 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union could find themselves locked out as early as 8 a.m. Thursday at all B.C. port operations except cruise ship or grain terminals.

Union president Rob Ashton has said his members are committed to keeping ships and cargo moving, and will continue to negotiate as long as the employer remains at the table.

Jeff Scott, chairman of the employers association, said Tuesday that the decision to issue a lockout notice was not easy but an overtime ban imposed by the union on Monday at two Vancouver terminals had made operations inefficient.

If a lockout occurs, Scott says the potential widespread financial impact amounts to about $5 billion a day across Canada.