POLITICS
03/23/2014 07:25 EDT | Updated 05/23/2014 05:59 EDT

Back-to-work legislation stifled negotiations: union truckers

VANCOUVER - Striking Vancouver-area unionized port truckers blame looming back-to-work legislation for undermining contract talks with their employers.

Gavin McGarrigle, who represents hundreds of unionized port truckers, says that once the provincial government promised back to work legislation, the truck companies avoided negotiations.

McGarrigle is accusing the shippers of allowing the government would to do their "dirty work" for them.

Back-to-work laws could be passed as early as Monday, and some union members have told McGarrigle they will continue their strike, even if it means being thrown in jail.

More than 1,000 non-union port truckers have been on strike since late last month.

Several hundred of their union counterparts joined the job action March 10, demanding shorter wait times at the port and standardized rates of pay across the sector to prevent undercutting.

Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says the disruption at Canada's largest port is having a severe effect on the economy and that she says truckers should go back to work.

Port Metro Vancouver trades $172 billion in goods each year.