Temperatures have reached a boiling point in the ongoing dispute over cargo pick up and delivery delays at Port Metro Vancouver.
A driver with a Delta, B.C., trucking company — did not want to speak on camera — was hit in the head by a large rock on Tuesday night as he was driving 70 km/h along Highway 17. The rock flew through the driver's side window, shattering the glass and cracking the windshield on the opposite side.
"God knows what would have happened if the truck went out of control on the highway," said ShindaAheer, owner of Aheer Transportation, whose driver was hit.
Aheer and the trucking industry are blaming the incident on the United Truckers Association, who are picketing outside his company. The picketing truckers caught the immediate aftermath of the assault on camera, and can be heard exchanging angry words with Aheer.
"You almost ... killed my guy," said Aheer in the video.
The incident happened days after surveillance video captured what appears to be someone cutting a truck's brake line on port property.
The UTA said it does not condone violence, and the port is investigating.
Work stoppage over port wait times
On Monday, unionized truckers gave the port a 72-hour strike notice, meaning they could walk off the job and shut down Canada's biggest port by the end of the week. Their counterparts with the non-unionized UTA took similar job action last week, when they parked their rigs and picked up their picket signs.
Both sides — as well as the port — agree it takes too much time for truckers to drop off and pick up cargo at the port's shipping terminals.
No one, however, agrees on how to fix the problem. Truckers want higher rates to compensate for long wait times. The port and trucking companies, meanwhile, want to extend operating hours to speed things up.
The recent violence is only making negotiating efforts more difficult.
"We don't want to work with organizations that use harassment, intimidation, and violence as tactics to try and get their way," said Louise Yako with the B.C. Trucking Association.
Some $475 million of cargo moves through the port every day. The port says it is already feeling the effects of work stoppage by non-unionized truckers — effects that could be worsened if unionized truckers follow through with their job action this week.
"Certainly the withdrawal of service is impacting some of the flow of goods to and from our port's container terminals by truck. That's principally the impact that we're feeling today, a slow down of port activity," said Port Metro Vancouver's Peter Xotta.
The port says it has an eight point plan — which includes extending port operating hours, changing how fees are charged, and introducing of an auditing system — to keep truckers working. But so far the truckers say they have been largely excluded from discussions.