Friday, February 28, 2014

Port Metro Vancouver Truckers
Launch Work Stoppage

By Mark Edward Nero

Members of the United Truckers Association of British Columbia began a work stoppage and set up a blockade at Port Metro Vancouver on Feb. 26 in protest of long wait times at port terminals.

An estimated 1,300 container trucks clogged the port in a protest over the wait times to pick up and drop off containers. UTA representatives have said the waits can sometimes be hours long.

“We’re sitting out on their property two, three hours,” Manny Dosange of the UTA said. “The employers have done their part: they got the work, they got us the container, they got us the appointment to be somewhere with that container, but it’s the receiving end of it that’s not prepared to take it on.”

The port has blamed recent issues with delays at terminals on extreme weather conditions in eastern and central North America, which have resulted in trains being shortened and slowed so they could operate safely. Also, ship delays have been blamed on storms in the Pacific Ocean.

Although the truckers are represented by the non-profit UTA, they’re not officially represented. Another labor organization, Unifor, represents about 400 unionized drivers at the port.

Several hundred trucks not participating in the work stoppage were able to access the port the first day of the strike, Port Metro Vancouver officials said in a statement regarding the labor issues, but acknowledged there have been problems. “We have heard reports of violence and verbal intimidation towards drivers at varied locations outside the port and at port entrances with some truck drivers deciding to turn away,” according to the statement.

The statement goes on to encourage trucking companies to work with truckers to reach common ground on the pay issue. However, Unifor is expected to have a vote on March 1 regarding whether or not to join the non-unionized truckers’ work stoppage. If the strike measure is approved, the union workers would be required to give 72 hours’ notice before walking off the job.