British Columbia Port Strike

Federal Labor Minister Claudette Bradshaw has appointed a mediator to work with the members of the Merchant Service Guild who walked out last Friday. Mediator Bill Lewis will meet with the union and the employers' Council of Marine Carriers group.

The employers are offering a 13.5 percent increase in wages and benefits over three years while the union is demanding more than 20 percent.

Philip Nelson, spokesman for the Council said ?The union wants too much considering the economic circumstances of the B.C. coast. Our offer is generous, and this strike is unnecessary.? Nelson added, ?If the mediator fails, then we?ll seek a court injunction to end the strike.?

The strike could threaten thousands of marine jobs, as well as the deliveries of food and fuel to B.C. residents, especially those on isolated coastal communities.

Roughly 80 percent of ship docking, marine shipping, and tug and barges services have been affected.