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Spat between Canadian maritime unions goes public

An ugly spat between two maritime trade unions in Canada has gone public.

The president of the International Longshore Workers’ Union (ILWU) Canada, Robert Ashton, recently came out with online comments in which he stated the ILWU would either push Ocean BC, which is affiliated to the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada from their waters or “kill” it. Ashton described Ocean BC as a “predator in our waters”, saying it wanted to muscle out one of the ILWU’s chapters in British Columbia.

Responding, Jim Given, the president of the SIU, said: “Fabricating information and threatening another union’s membership is something no good labour union should do, and we view it as a sign of weak leadership.”

Given said that throughout the SIU’s history, the ILWU Canada has “raided, defamed and slandered” his union.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. You should look into the SIU issue more. Their Facebook page is showing wages paid in Vancouver Harbour but the competition wages aren’t even close to accurate. And the don’t even post their deckhand wages compared to ILWU deckhand wages. If the SIU is so great for their workers then maybe they should try and bring their wages up to the standard set by the ILWU and others in BC. They should also negotiate wage increases that keep up with cost of living on the West Coast. So far what the SIU is doing in the Port of Vancouver is a detriment to the industry. All they are doing is taking other workers jobs for lower wages, no wonder the ILWU is mad.

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