Truckers protest at Vancouver port, disrupt operations

Port of VancouverPort of Vancouver

Stakeholders at Canada’s Port Vancouver say protesting non-union truckers have attempted to intimidate drivers working the facility, while the port’s container hauler union may strike, too.

Both the union and the non-union trucker organizations have been unable to resolve rate and wait time issues with Port Metro Vancouver. The United Truckers Association entered its third day of a work stoppage Feb. 28 and the unionized Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association planned a March 1 strike vote.

The British Columbia Trucking Association, Western Canadian Shippers’ Coalition and the PMV say some protestors have used intimidation and sabotage of trucks and property to disrupt port operations. Port representatives say perpetrators “will be identified and their licenses to access port property will be terminated.”

The UTA appears more interested in disruption than resolution, said BCTA President Louise Yako. “Some owner-operators have justifiable concerns and want to raise awareness,” Yako said. “That’s their right. But many other owner-operators and trucking companies simply want to service their customers. They should be allowed to do that without fear of reprisal.”

WCSC Chairman Ian May says progress was made on wait time compensation and expanding terminal hours, but the UTA wanted compensation of $100 per hour. “Not only is that completely unrealistic, the UTA couldn’t offer any support for the figure,” May said.

Industry representatives met with the UTA Feb. 24 to forestall the shutdown, according to a BCTA and WCSC joint statement. “But it’s unclear whether the results of these discussions were shared with the UTA membership prior to the walk-out,” it read.

Port officials say they cannot interfere with wages, which are between the truckers and trucking companies. However, the PMV is actively pursuing initiatives to decrease delays.

The PMV argues wait times have been prolonged by an unusually severe winter. Still, GPS data indicates 64 percent of trucks wait less than an hour and 5 percent wait less than two hours, the port added.

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The UTA was founded last October and represents 1,200 PMV owner-operators, a figure disputed by the BCTA and the WCSC. The port has only issued 807 permits to owner-operator and some of which have gone to truckers represented by Unifor rather than UTA, the groups stated.

In June 2012, Unifor-VCTA’s collective agreement with PMV expired. The following year, Unifor was founded when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.