NEWS

Port Metro Vancouver demands truckers return to work today

03/20/2014 09:04 EDT | Updated 05/20/2014 05:59 EDT
It is still not clear if container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver will return to work, after the port and B.C. government issued new ultimatums on Wednesday in an attempt to end the ongoing labour dispute.

The truckers say "bully tactics" aren't the answer and could make a bad situation, even worse.

Manny Dosanjh with the United Trucker's Association, which represents the non-union drivers says taking 1,200 truckers out of the system isn't much of a solution.

"It's wishful thinking on their part," he said of the port's ultimatum.

"Nothing is happening Thursday. I don't think anything is happening on the union side either."

Dosanjh says truckers are leaving the industry because they can't make money. Even on a good working day, he says, the port is still short drivers.

Licences at risk

Port Metro Vancouver says it plans to begin implementing the 14-point action plan for reform presented seven days ago to the truckers by both the federal and provincial governments.

Port president Robin Silvester says he expects everyone with a current licence or permit to report to work on Thursday or risk losing their licence.

"I cannot imagine why we would issue future licences or permits under the new licensing system to truck drivers who are not at work tomorrow," he said Wednesday.

Silvester said the port is pushing ahead with licence reform and will not be renewing old licences as they expire.

The plan was based on recommendations from veteran mediator Vince Ready who was appointed by the federal government to look at the issues surrounding the strike.

But it was rejected earlier this week when the truckers demanded more negotiations first.

Back-to- work legislation coming down

The B.C. government also announced Wednesday it is preparing back-to-work legislation that will apply to about 250 unionized drivers who went on strike on March 10.

The province says the legislation includes a 90-day cooling off period and could be introduced as early as Monday.

Only unions can be legislated back to work and Unifor-VCTAA,  the union representing container truckers, is the target of the government legislation.

President Paul Johal also says trying to force his members to work will only make a bad situation worse.

"The minister can’t expect to stick his head in the sand and make this go away,” said Johal.

“A negotiated settlement is the only sustainable solution.”

Port Metro Vancouver is the country's busiest port and the strike by truckers has been impacting $100 million worth of goods every day.

The strike started in February ago when non-union container truckers withdrew their services. It picked up steam in early March when unionized drivers also went on strike.

The truck drivers are demanding standardized rates of pay across the trucking sector to prevent undercutting and a reduction in wait times at the port.

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