Containers ships being offloaded are normally a common sight at Port Metro Vancouver terminals. They've become rare since most container truck drivers walked off the job.

Port truckers strike continues despite threat of penalties

Drivers may defy threat of legislation, licence terminations

Most striking container truckers are so far refusing to get back in their rigs despite the threat of back-to-work legislation and licence terminations by Port Metro Vancouver.

Both unionized drivers and a non-union group vowed Thursday to continue the service withdrawal crippling Canada’s largest port and triggering layoffs in other trade-dependent industries.

They planned to stage a rally at noon Friday at the port authority offices in downtown Vancouver.

“This is Canada, this isn’t some banana republic,” Unifor union spokesman Gavin McGarrigle said Thursday. “You don’t do mass terminations of people’s livelihoods when they’re just protesting. This is draconian action.”

The provincial government said Wednesday it will legislate 250 unionized truckers back to work next week, with a 90-day cooling off period.

Port Metro Vancouver simultaneously said it would begin denying new licences to access port terminals to non-union drivers who failed to show up to work Thursday.

McGarrigle predicted some drivers will defy the legislation, adding the union is waiting to see what penalties are included in it.

“I’ve heard our members saying if they can’t pay the fines they’re also prepared to go to jail.”

About 1,000 non-union United Trucking Association drivers were first to halt work on Feb. 26 and unionized Unifor drivers have been on strike since March 10.

The provincial and federal governments on March 12 unveiled a 14-point action plan that they argue will do much to address truckers concerns on unpaid wait times at port terminals and rate undercutting within the industry.

That plan was rejected by both driver groups, which denounced the governments’ refusal to negotiate.

Port Metro Vancouver officials deny wait times are as bad as truckers claim, saying GPS data from half of the container trucks on the road show most wait less than an hour at terminals.

The strike is blocking the normal trade route for almost $900 million worth of cargo per week.

The port claims the number of drivers working has crept up steadily since the strike began. It says the number of containers moved by truck ran at 10 to 25 per cent of normal last week, but rose to more than 35 per cent by Wednesday and appeared to be higher again Thursday.

McGarrigle called that spin.

“There’s a handful of trucks going in,” he said. “I’d be surprised if it’s more than 10 or 15 per cent.”

Some shippers have begun to move containers through other ports, such as Seattle, but such workarounds are difficult and costly.

Half of the containers the port handles move through by rail, while the other half that normally move by truck go to local destinations across the Lower Mainland.

The federal-provincial plan would require a 10 per cent jump in rates paid for each container moved, as well as a review of other hourly wages and fuel surcharges with changes to kick in by mid-2015.

Terminals will also have to pay truckers $25 per container when they wait more than two hours to load.

It also pledges extended loading hours at terminals and other measures to tighten compliance with rates.

Just Posted

Photos: The Contenders rock the Blue Moose Coffee Shop Friday

Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard came together as (The) Contenders to play music… Continue reading

First snowfall of season on its way in the Fraser Valley: Environment Canada

Two to four centimetres of snowfall is expected to fall by Sunday evening

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

VIDEO: Highway overpass protest against United Nations ‘compact’ on immigration

Demonstrators say Canada will have less control over who is allowed in the country

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

Most Read