The B.C. government has announced back to work legislation for the 400 Unifor truck driving members on strike at the Port of Vancouver since March 10.
The Port is simultaneously embarked on a union-busting solution to the strike of 1,200-1,400 independent-operator truckers that began on February 26. It says it will not renew the licenses of independent operators to move in and out of the port.
“I cannot imagine why we would issue future licences…to truck drivers who are not at work tomorrow,” Robin Silvester, president of the Port of Vancouver, said in a statement.
The two groups of workers transport containers. Trucks and railways handle an equal share of the port’s container traffic. Vancouver is Canada’s largest ocean port.
The independent operators’ dispute centers on the lengthy wait times they must endure when picking up or delivering containers and the rate of payment they receive for each load. Payment rates have been frozen since 2005.
Unifor drivers are also demanding pay increases, and they want a system in place whereby shipping companies cannot use independent operators to undercut pay rates at unionized trucking firms.
There is intense pressure on the port management to end the strike that is costing tens of millions of dollars to businesses across Canada and abroad that ship products by container. Although the port is a federal agency, Ottawa is leaving the dirty work of trying to end the strike in the hands of the provincial government.
The B.C. Federation of Labour is calling on union members and other supporters to join a rally today at noon at Canada Place in support of the truckers’ strikes. Canada Place is the location of the offices of Port of Vancouver.
In an emergency statement issued yesterday announcing the rally, Jim Sinclair, president of the Federation of Labour, said, “It is outrageous that governments are willing to destroy the livelihoods of these drivers by banning them from working at the Port forever. Truckers are simply standing up, legally, for the right to make a decent living.”
Truckers strike keeps Canada’s largest container port in Vancouver shut down, by Roger Annis, March 14, 2014
B.C. government moves to force truckers back to work at Port Metro Vancouver
By Brian Morton and Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun, March 20, 2014