The world is almost never what it seems. There are hidden agendas. The Port strike is no different. And
the negotiations do not include all those affected by the dispute.
The smooth functioning of an economy relies on an efficient and dependable transportation
infrastructure to move goods. Without the ability to move goods, eventually the economy grinds to a
halt. So, the stakes are very high. Currently, it is estimate $775 million of trade a day is impacted.
The problem is the two negotiating parties have opposing agendas, and it does not encompass a smooth
running efficient system that benefits all those that use it. In our adversarial competitive system there
are winners and losers. Neither side wants to lose for many reasons. They are not overly concerned
about their actions on the wider public, using their negative impact as leverage to see who caves first.
The union wants to maximize the compensation of its members and protect their jobs; hence its desire
to influence contracting out and the use of innovation to reduce the labour force. That is
understandable. On the other side, the employer wants to minimize its labour costs through containing
compensation and have a free hand in managing its work place through outsourcing and the use of
innovation. That is understandable, but these two opposing goals are in conflict.
If the dispute goes on for too long, government, which represents all those impacted but not part of the
negotiations, will have to step in. It may be the goal of the parties to get this result because then they
have not lost out to the other part in negotiations. It is an outside imposed settlement that saves face for
their constituents. If the federal government justifies the use of the Emergencies Act to stop the
blockades on the bridges affecting goods trade with the US, then it seems logical for it to step into this
dispute. But, there will be longer-term consequences.
SME Business Consulting Group