(Recasts with settlement)
By Rod Nickel and Kelsey Johnson
WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA, May 30 (Reuters) - A lockout of longshore workers at Canada’s biggest port, the Port of Vancouver, ended in a deal on Thursday after a few hours, averting a potentially massive shipping disruption, the workers’ union and employers association said.
The lockout was immediately lifted and the union also withdrew its strike notice, according to separate statements by the BC Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada.
Details of a tentative agreement on a new contract, reached with the help of federal mediation, were not released.
At issue was the employers association’s introduction of automation that could eliminate jobs, the union said.
The port is a major gateway to Asia for Canadian goods, moving large volumes of coal, grain, potash and forest products.
Despite its short duration, the lockout led to lineups of trucks outside terminals and vessels being rerouted to other West Coast ports, said Joel Neuheimer, vice president of international trade and transportation at Forest Products Association of Canada, whose members include Canfor Corp and West Fraser Timber.
Cruise ships and licensed grain terminals were not affected by the lockout.
The employers association represents 55 companies, such as ship owners and terminal operators at the port. ($1 = 1.3498 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Dan Grebler, Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman)