Scandal that shorted truckers pay rocks Canada’s Vancouver port

Port of VancouverPort of Vancouver

British Columbia’s first container tucking commissioner has resigned after audits revealed Port Metro Vancouver truckers were shorted pay. Meanwhile, truckers suing the office over compensation filed a separate lawsuit against PMV’s new emission standards.

Todd Stone, BC’s transportation and infrastructure minister, announced Andy Smith’s resignation Sept. 15, seven month after he became the office’s first commissioner. Unifor, which represents the port’s union truckers, had opposed the appointment because Smith heads the province’s Maritime Employers Association, which represents ship owners and terminal operators. The union had filed suit in BC’s Supreme Court against the commissioner July 29 over pay issues.

On Sept. 29, Stone said commission operations were continuing as he sought Smith’s replacement.

He also announced the conclusion of six audits licensed PMV container trucking companies. None of the companies had met retroactive pay rates, a violation of recent law passed setting minimum rates and retroactive pay. The commissioner’s office is evaluating what sanctions it will take against the six licensees, while 13 additional audits are underway.

Four of the six completed audits have repaid drivers, one has not and orders of repayment will be included in any sanctions.

Companies have seven days to respond when the commission notifies a company it intends to issue an order. The CTC will consider the written response when issuing a final order. The company also will have 30 days to request the commission reconsider the original decision. On Sept. 30, Unifor challenged PMV in federal court over its upcoming ban on trucks more than ten years old, regardless of engine age or emission compliance. The port’s expiring policy used opacity testing to measure emission compliance. The union also says that unlike other ports, PMV’s new rules do not offer compensation or incentives for truckers attempting to meet compliance.

Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s BC area director, aid the new policy does exempt the port’s own on-dock vehicles from the upcoming truck age limitation. “The first sign that rules are unfair is when you exempt yourself from them,” added McGarrigle.

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The UTA, the port’s independent owner-operator organization, announced a Sept. 20 rally against the truck age ban. On Feb. 28, the association had quit work and on March 10, PMV Unifor truckers began striking.

Governmental officials and stakeholders ended the strike after agreeing to changes that included establishment of a province trucking container commissioner, hiking PMV container trucking rates 12 percent and doubling owner-operators’ fuel surcharges.

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