Federal-Provincial Politicians Scrambling To End Port Truckers Strike

Truckers Reviewing Proposal After Federal Transport Minister Signs Off On 14-Point Plan!

With containers stacking up and ships threatening to divert to Seattle, the B.C. government is calling on the federal transport minister to intervene in a truckers' strike at Port Metro Vancouver.

VANCOUVER – There might be some hope for the port truckers strike to come to an after federal and provincial governments scrambled this week to take concrete action with a new proposal that was submitted to the striking truckers Thursday night.

While politicians are hoping a new proposal will end the truckers dispute at Port Metro Vancouver, but the union is not ready to endorse the offer quite yet.

At this point, the union has as many questions as answers, and its members are looking for more detail. That means, for now, there’s no resolution to the service withdrawal that started more than two weeks ago.

Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced she was supporting the 14-point plan late Thursday night, following urgent calls from B.C.’s transportation minister Todd Stone for her to take immediate action, reported CBC news.

“I am confident that the joint action plan that has been put in place today will allow the truckers to return to work and the port to return  to normal operations immediately,” Raitt said in a statement released by her office.

But it isn’t yet clear if the plan will end the strike, which ramped up on Monday when unionized truck drivers joined non-unionized truckers in the job action that began in February.

United Truckers Association spokesman Manny Dosange told CBC his group, which represents more than 1,000 non-union drivers, has not been officially informed of the proposals but has received the details third-hand and is willing to consider them.

In a terse, one-sentence email issued last night, Unifor, which represents the other 400 unionized container truckers in the dispute, said it was given the proposals late yesterday at the same time as the general public, and is “reviewing” the 14-point list.

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.

The 14-point plan includes:

* A commitment to end most legal action launched by the port against some drivers, except those involved in criminal actions.

* Changes to rate structures, licensing, fuel surcharges and audits of companies to ensure drivers are paid fair compensation.

* Changes to reduce wait times for drivers including extended hours at container terminals.

* The creation of an industry oversight committee.

* The use of mediation to settle future disputes.

* A whistleblower mechanism for reporting harassment and licensing issues.

* Expansion of the GPS tracking system to all trucks working the ports.

Noting the impact on the overall economy, Stone asked Raitt to get on a plane as soon as possible and come to Vancouver to help put an immediate end to the strike. Port Metro Vancouver is run by an agency controlled by the federal government.

“This is Canada’s largest port, and the port is on its knees,” Stone said Thursday. “We received word this morning that within 24 hours ships will be diverted from the Port of Vancouver and will be diverted to Seattle.”

Port Metro Vancouver is the country’s busiest port, and the strike by truckers is affecting $100 million in goods every day. Port officials say the job action has stopped 90 per cent of container traffic in and out of the ports.

“All sides must do everything they can to avoid more disruption at the port. Port Metro Vancouver is a vital link and key driver of economic activity. Continued disruption will only hurt businesses, the economy and our reputation abroad,” said New Democrat labour critic Harry Bains.

Earlier, the truckers union criticized the finger pointing between the federal and provincial governments, which it said underscores how difficult it will be to end a strike crippling Port Metro Vancouver shipments.

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