The effects of the dockworkers strike at West Coast ports in Canada is reverberating through the supply chain and to the railways.

About 7,400 workers with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada’s Longshore Division went on strike last Saturday after negotiations with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association failed to reach a new labor contract.

The strike is affecting container cargo traffic at two of Canada’s busiest ports, Vancouver and Prince Rupert, key export gateways for the country.

Canadian railway CN (NYSE: CNI) told FreightWaves that it has taken steps to help mitigate service disruptions to Canada’s West Coast supply chains, “as well as the likelihood of related impacts across the CN network. Those steps include preventing the flow of certain traffic and reducing intermodal customer capacity allocations to British Columbia ports.”

The railway warned that a stoppage can create disruptions that could take weeks or even months to correct because of the integrated nature of port and rail corridors. 

“At a time when Canadians are battling inflation and working to keep our economy strong, this could result in increased shipping and consumer costs. It is therefore critical to keep the economy moving and get ports opened again,” CN said. 

The railway urged all the parties and the government to take swift action to end the strike.

Canadian Pacific Kansas City (NYSE: CP) said it is in direct communication with customers about the strike. The railway has implemented temporary embargoes for export traffic destined to the Port of Vancouver, which allows traffic “to move west while protecting network fluidity.” 

Even U.S. rail operations are being affected because the U.S. carriers interchange with CPKC and CN, and U.S.-based shippers utilize the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert to export and import goods.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) said in a Thursday service update that because CN and CP are no longer accepting interline shipments for that region, NS is no longer able to ingate at Deltaport and Roberts Bank in greater Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert. This action will minimize any impacts to NS’ operations, the railway said. 

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Related links:

Shippers wary of service as labor issues dominate freight news

Dockworkers strike continues at Canada’s West Coast ports

Dockworkers at Canada’s West Coast ports launch strike

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