Vancouver Port Trying To Kill Smaller Trucking Companies By Imposing $35,000-$45,000 Yearly Fee

Many Indo-Canadian Truckers Up In Arms About New Changes Say Port Acting Like The Mafia!

“They are acting like the mafia and holding this gun to our heads with these charges and fees which are clearly designed to keep out us smaller guys,” said the veteran trucker who didn’t want his name disclosed for fear of repercussions.

By R. Paul Dhillon

VANCOUVER – Vancouver Port is trying to weed out the smaller trucking companies, many owned by Indo-Canadians, with massive yearly fees that the drivers say favour the bigger companies over the smaller ones by creating an unfair playing field.

In an email to trucking companies this week, the Port Metro Vancouver said it will introduce a two-tiered Annual Agreement charge of between $35,000 and $45,000, including additional charges per extra trucks as well as a proposed bond of $250,000 per trucking company (15 or 20 trucks) plus $125,000 for each increment of 10 trucks.

Here is the breakdown of the annual Agreement charge:

• $35,000 for up to 15 trucks

• $45,000 for 16 to 20 trucks

• $2,250 for additional trucks

A number of Indo-Canadian truckers told the LINK that the new charges will be a death knell for their business as they will not be able to compete with the bigger companies by paying such hefty fees and on top putting up unnecessary bonds when they already have insurance for their vehicles.

“They are trying to kill the little guy with this, no doubt about it,” said one trucker who has a fleet of five to 10 trucks. “These fees are outrageous but the worst part is that they should be based on the number of trucks you have and not be paying $35,000 when you are only running 5-10 trucks. The fees should be per truck as those who are running less than the full amount are incurring double the charges.”

Another Indo-Canadian trucker who is enraged with the fees said the Port is acting like the mafia in imposing these outrageous charges and fees while the rates remain the same.

“They are acting like the mafia and holding this gun to our heads with these charges and fees which are clearly designed to keep out us smaller guys,” said the veteran trucker who didn’t want his name disclosed for fear of repercussions. “And while they are announcing all these unnecessary charges, the rates remain the same. There is hardly much margin as it is but with this we’d be working for free or worst putting money from our pockets.”

Truckers say that these new costs  will be offloaded to the consumer eventually which means that there will be higher costs for the products, which in turn will lead to shippers offloading their product at other ports and which will mean loss of many local jobs in warehousing and retail.

“They’re making truckers work for nothing which is going to kill jobs and make consumers pay higher costs for goods – so it benefits nobody but the port and the bigger companies who can monopolize the work at the port,” another Indo-Canadian Trucker said, choosing to remain anonymous.

The truckers said they have talked to a lot of Port customers and they said it the rates go up and it costs more to ship products through Vancouver, they will either shut down or move their operation south of the border.

“Why should we pay extra costs and charges like the Bond which is going to cost us $10,000 a year,” said another Trucker. “This is just stupid and bad for business all around.”

The new changes are expected to go into effect in January but the truckers will be making a lot of noise about it for the port to change it and make it easier for the trucking companies to swallow these extra charges.

The United Truckers Association of BC (UTA), the union representing truckers, said the recent development in the proposed new Truck Licensing System (TLS Port Permitted Trucks) by Port of Metro Vancouver (PMV) violates every labor right and threatens livelihood of about 300-500 truckers, many of whom have been hauling goods to and from the port for more than 15 years.

“The procedures and strategies, to reduce the number of trucks, being opted by PMV are unheard of, “ Dhillon said.

The UTA seeks immediate action to resolve the ongoing issues truckers are encountering at ports and with continued inaction from both levels of government, the UTA cannot guarantee the stability of cargo transportation.

UTA said in a press release last week that it is encouraged to learn that legislation will be tabled in the BC Legislature, putting into motion a 14-point Joint Action Plan signed by the Association and Premier Christy Clark along with federal representatives in March of this year. The plan will bring a number of key initiatives to fulfillment in order to ensure continued stability to the shipping schedule at Port Metro Vancouver.

“When we signed the 14-point Joint Action Plan with the Premier in March, we were under the understanding that it would be implemented into legislation within 30 days and a stable system would be reviewed, finalized, and acted upon within 90 days. We have been waiting eight months, so we are anxious to see these promises fulfilled,” said UTA spokesman Manny Dhillon. “Our members are once again losing faith in the system, as the core points agreed upon in the Joint Action Plan have not been put into action despite continued promises.”

Non-union truckers walked off the job on February 26, 2014. Negotiations with the provincial and federal governments ended their job action on March 26, 2014 with the establishment of a 14-point Joint Action Plan signed by the representatives of the UTA and both levels of government.

Some of the key agreed upon resolutions in the 14-point Joint Action Plan includes:

•             Round trip moves paid in full for both On Dock and Off Dock moves;

•             Establishment of an hourly rate for company drivers;

•             A benchmark minimum rate set across the sector;

•             Paid wait-time after 90 minutes at the ports; and

•             A 12% increase in trip rates over 2006 established rates along with a 16% fuel surcharge.

“In the current situation, the average port trucker is putting in more than 16 hours a day and barely earning above minimum wage. Our members are having a tough time taking care of their families,” Dhillon said.

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