Unifor spokesman Paul Johal addressing container port truckers during last spring's 28-day strike.

Province legislates rates for container truckers

Move aims to stabilize turbulent trucking industry, avoid new strike and ensure Port Metro Vancouver reliability

The province has introduced legislation aimed at stabilizing the turbulent container trucking business and avoid a repeat of last spring’s strike that disrupted goods shipping through Port Metro Vancouver.

The legislation extends minimum rates to more of the container truck fleet, plugging holes left by a previous failed federal attempt at rate regulation.

The provincial move dovetails with the port’s announcement a week ago that it will bring in a new licence system and reduce the number of trucks licensed to serve port terminals.

Container truck drivers have long complained of low pay as a result of the sector’s fiercely competitive players constantly undercutting each other.

Part of the problem is the 2,000 trucks licensed to haul from container terminals amount to too many drivers chasing too little work.

The new system is expected to make it harder and costlier to be in port trucking, spurring some of the less responsible firms to move on to other lines of work.

Past efforts to regulate rates only applied to about 20 per cent of the region’s container trucks and they didn’t apply at all to so-called “off-dock” rates for moving containers between various warehouses.

As a results, some drivers were paid the regulated $100 a trip to pick up from a port terminal, but only $15 for off-dock hauling of containers between other sites.

The provincial law will require trucking firms that serve the port terminals to also pay regulated rates to drivers for the off-dock trips.

A new container trucking commissioner will regulate truck licensing and enforce rates, as well as wait time compensation and fuel surcharges.

“We are confident this legislation will establish fair working conditions in this sector as well as allow Port Metro Vancouver to increase its efficiency and reliability as a world-class port,” Transportation Minister Todd Stone said.

Unionized truckers had warned over the summer another strike was possible if the province failed to take action.

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