‘Serious’ plan to end port strike waits on truckers

Container hauling deal includes higher rates, excessive wait compensation, evening runs

A joint federal-provincial plan to end the strike crippling the flow of containers through Port Metro Vancouver is now awaiting a response from union and non-union truckers.

Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt signed off Thursday on the commitments to resolve truckers complaints that centre on rate undercutting and long terminal wait times that cost them money.

“We expect the trucking industry to do their part and immediately return to work,” Raitt said, adding she has directed Port Metro Vancouver to implement the changes.

SFU urban studies professor Peter Hall, an expert on the dispute, called the plan a “serious attempt” to solve the long-running problems.

He cautioned the devil will be in the details because many of the promises lack specifics, so truckers are being asked to put considerable trust in the rollout.

The 14-point plan offers an immediate 10 per cent jump in rates paid for each container moved, as well as a review of other hourly wages and fuel surcharges with changes to kick in by mid-2015.

Terminals will also have to pay truckers $25 per container when they wait more than two hours to load.

Bolstered provincial audits and other measures, including a whistleblower provision, are pledged to ensure port-licensed trucking firms abide by industry rates and that fuel surcharges flow through to drivers.

Port Metro Vancouver would reinstate port licences of truckers it had suspended who don’t face criminal charges for alleged violence or vandalism, and end a lawsuit against the United Truckers Association.

Initial reforms are pledged by June 15, including steps to control the proliferation of licensed trucks and to introduce new licence charges that fund enforcement and expansion of the port’s GPS tracking system for trucks.

A pilot project to extend hours at port terminals is also promised this spring, allowing limited evening trips – which may be subsidized through industry fees – with an aim of reducing port congestion and lineups during the day.

Hall called it an “interesting” effort to compensate truckers for long waits, while seeking to make terminal operations more efficient and tighten screws on industry players who upset the balance being sought.

He said independent owner-operators may balk at accepting full GPS tracking of their trucks, which he said “opens up all kinds of monitoring.”

Tracking could precisely verify terminal waits so truckers could be accurately compensated, he said, but it could also be used to enforce everything from truck route compliance to use of toll bridges.

“It could be a very powerful weapon in somebody’s hands.”

Nearly 300 Unifor-represented container truckers have been on strike since March 10, joining several hundred more non-union owner-operators with the United Trucking Association who halted work late last month.

Unifor reps have called for an over-arching agreement to cover the entire industry, but the proposed plan would preserve the current mix of company-employed union and non-union drivers, as well as independent owner-operators in the container trucking business, subject to tighter regulation.

B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone on Thursday warned the port is “down on its knees” due to the dispute, with mills and plants closing and ships preparing to reroute to Seattle.

Stone said employees at pulp mills, sawmills and other shipping-dependent businesses are starting to be laid off because their goods can’t be shipped. There are 90,000 people whose jobs depend on the port, and 60,000 of them are in B.C., he said.

Half of the containers move through the port by rail and are not affected by the strike.

Some truckers have continued to work, with container truck shipments running at 10 to 25 per cent of normal.

– with files from Tom Fletcher

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Ivan Scott. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Surrey mayor enters word war with speakers, councillor

McCallum calls brief recess after asking two speakers to leave chambers

Montreal-based writer Michael Foy grew up in the Newton area of Surrey. (submitted photo)
Surrey-raised writer Foy really loves to set his short stories in the city

His latest is published in ‘Canadian Shorts II’ collection

Signs at a new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s COVID-19 case count exceeds 1,800

About 800 new cases in September

Brandon Nathan Teixeira, arrested last December in California in connection with a fatal 2017 shooting in South Surrey, is next due in court on Nov. 12. (File photos)
Notorious South Surrey fugitive returns to court Nov. 12

Brandon Teixeira was arrested last December in California

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Maple Meadows Station’s new Bike Parkade. TransLink photo
TransLink to remove abandoned or discarded bicycles from bike parkades

Rules at TransLink bike parkades ask customers to use facilities for single day use only

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Most Read