Play Video Ian Nicol - Manager, Vancouver Dispatch Centre
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The BCMEA Dispatch Centre is customer driven and customer focused.  The dispatch process involves providing Customer Members with a just-in-time work force which meets their needs on a 3 shift, 24-hour, 7-day a week basis. This labour model allows the customer members the flexibility to employ only the employees required for that particular shift. On very busy shifts an automated call-out system is used to alert employees of a significant increase in work opportunity and encourages them to make themselves available for work.

The Port of Vancouver is North America's most diversified and Canada's busiest.  We match employers' labour requirements with productive, skilled labour in over 28 different skilled categories.

The Vancouver Dispatch Center provides services to five business sectors from the Cruise vessels, to Container, General Cargo, Grain and Dry and Liquid Bulk operations. Equipment from 75 long ton Container Cranes, 40 Ton Container Lift Trucks, 30,000 lbs. Forklifts, to Locomotives, to 5,000 ton per hour bulk loading conveyor systems.

Work Information:

Labour Orders

Each employer places orders for their specific needs prior to established  order/cancellation times through a customized remote ordering network. These orders are filled in accordance with the established dispatch times as set out in the order/cancellation documents.

In order of magnitude, the total labour requirements can range between 100 to 400 workers per shift or over 1,200 employees in the various categories over a 24-hour period. The BCMEA Dispatch Centre can dispatch up to 400 employees in less than 30 minutes to ensure that employees arrive at the various work sites on time.

Dispatch of Labour

Employees seeking work must make themselves available prior to each designated dispatch time. There are three primary methods by which this accomplished. 

  1. The Interactive Voice Response system (IVR)  allows specific groups of employees to indicate their availability and work assignment preferences. These employees can be dispatched either by an IVR system, or alternatively, by telephone from Association staff. Labour for the Squamish area, Breakbulk labour (Gangs) First Aid, Checkers and Gear persons are examples of these.
  2. At the BCMEA hiring hall, Union employees are provided with a plastic card which is located in a category board. These category boards are typically organized by the types of skills the Union employees are qualified for as well as the type of work they will be performing. Examples of these include the Topside board (where employees operate ship board as well as dock cranes) and the Machine board (where employees operate equipment such as Front End Loaders, Excavators, Bulldozers, and Forklifts). The other boards include the Hold board, the Lines board, Coastwise board, Grain board, Dock board, Warehouse board, Rail board and Trades board. There are in total approximately 1000 Union members which have cards in the hiring hall.

    Workers display their card at the hiring hall to indicate availability for work. This card contains all the pertinent information including the skill categories for which they are qualified. The card is equipped with an RF chip. Once the union employee has selected a job within their qualified skill, this card is scanned into the Electronic Dispatch System by the Association staff.
  3. At the BCMEA hiring hall, Casual employees swipe their Facility Access Passes (aka Port Pass) across a card reader to indicate their availability for work. The Electronic Dispatch System accumulates all of the available Casual employees along with their skills and provides statistical information of the inventories of skilled labour.  Casuals are organized on “virtual” boards, starting with the most experienced “A” board, followed by the “B”, “C”, “T” and “00” Board. There are in total approximately 1000 casual employees.

All qualified available Union employees are dispatched prior to Casual employees. Job assignments are conducted on a rotational basis to those qualified employees who make themselves available. Providing there are sufficient skilled employees available to fulfill the needs of the employers, Union members may select their work assignment from the work in their skill category available on a particular day.

Within seconds of being dispatched and the employee receiving their work assignment for the shift, the electronic system notifies the Employer who they will be receiving to fill the skilled position they have ordered.

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