BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver Truckers' Strike At Port Leads To Wine Shortage

03/13/2014 03:47 EDT | Updated 03/13/2014 06:59 EDT
CP

A strike by shipping container truckers at the Port of Metro Vancouver is creating a wine shortage, especially for bottles from South America and Europe.

The largest chain of private wine stores in Western Canada is running out of stock because their shipments are stuck at the port, reports Metro Vancouver.

Robert Simpson, general manager of Liberty Wine Merchants, hopes the work stoppage doesn't last as long as the 47 days it took to resolve the last trucking strike in 2005. Wine and beer spoiled in the overheated shipping containers that sat in the sun.

About 1,000 non-unionized truckers walked off the job last month, while unionized drivers began striking on Monday. Long wait times at the port and pay are the main issues.

Imports of Guinness beer may also be hit leading up to St. Patrick's Day, reported CTV News.

Containers piling up at the port are charged storage fees that are passed on to merchants, which in turn affect retail prices on everything from groceries and clothing to electronics and construction materials.

“Up to now we’re paying $240 a day and tomorrow it goes to $350 a day,” Gordon Glanz, founder of East Vancouver distillery Odd Society Spirits, told Metro.

Businesses that need to export products through the port are suffering too, reported CBC News.

PM 'concerned' about dispute

Port Metro Vancouver administers the region's port system, leasing government-owned land and terminal space to private operators.

As Canada's largest port, it moves more than $170 billion worth of goods each year. Trucks transport about half of the containers that move in and out of the port, while the rest are moved by rail.

The striking truckers are not employed directly by Port Metro Vancouver; rather, they are either independent contractors or sub-contractors working for trucking companies.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Christy Clark both offered dire warnings Wednesday that the strike is a threat to the country's economy, but each leader insisted it's up to the other government to actually do something about it.

"We're obviously concerned about this particular labour dispute ... and it is not acceptable to have relatively small numbers of people blocking what is important trade for a range of British Columbian and Canadian business," Harper said in Vancouver.

"Unfortunately, the labour disputes here are really under the jurisdiction of provincial government, not ours."

Last week, the federal government appointed a veteran labour mediator, Vince Ready, to review the dispute and examine the broader labour issues within the trucking industry. He is due to report back to the federal and provincial governments by the end of May.

UPDATE - 3:19 p.m.: B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone is asking federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt to intervene and settle the port strike, reports CBC News.

With files from The Canadian Press

Also on HuffPost

2012's Celebrity Wines, Beers And Spirits