Vancouver container truckers reject deal

CNS Canada — Unionized container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver are set to take strike action after rejecting a tentative agreement over the weekend.

Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association (VCTA) members voted unanimously in favour of taking strike action on March 1, after being without a contract for 18 months. Federally-appointed mediator Vince Ready had helped reach a tentative agreement last Thursday, but 98 per cent of the truckers voted against the deal over the weekend, according to reports.

“Our members have spoken: the deal was too little, too late,” said Paul Johal, president of Unifor-VCTA, in a news release.

Long waiting times at the port are a major complaint of the drivers, who are looking for improvements to the turnaround time, increased pay and standardized rates.

The roughly 400 truckers represented by Unifor-VCTA join the roughly 1,200 non-unionized truckers, represented by the United Truckers Association, who have already been taking job action since Feb. 26.

“We’ve warned the government for years how bad the conditions are,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s B.C. area director, in the union release. “We welcome the involvement of Vince Ready, but the feedback I’ve gotten is that our members need to see something far more immediate to improve their economic position,” he added.

“The purpose of Mr. Ready’s appointment was to conduct a review of an industry that is clearly not functioning well for all stakeholders,” said Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester in a separate release.

“We agree that truckers should be paid a fair wage, but bargaining relating to employment and contract relationships can only be done with the employer or the parties to the contract. Port Metro Vancouver is not the employer and is not party to the contract relationships.”

Disruption over the past several days has had a dramatic effect on the ability of terminal operators to move goods. “The impact of truckers walking off the job is in the order of about $885 million per week,” said Silvester in the release. “Goods are not moving and that is bad news for consumers and businesses.” — CNS Canada

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