Unifor welcomes government action on truck driver wait times

Truck drivers protest downtown Vancouver last March. Photo by Chandra Bodalia
UNIFOR welcomed an announcement on Wednesday by the federal and provincial ministers of transportation about wait times at Vancouver ports that upholds the principles outlined in the March 26 joint action plan. Agreed upon after weeks of further negotiations, Mediator Vince Ready’s recommendations will soon be implemented at Vancouver-area sites.

“This announcement clears the way for wait time payments to start flowing freely to truck drivers despite the efforts of some groups to obstruct the plan for stability,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s BC area director.

Years of inaction on wait times, undercutting, and pay rates boiled over into a month-long strike by container truck drivers in March 2014. Only a negotiated settlement broke the impasse after truck drivers vowed to disobey forced-work legislation introduced by the BC government.

“We believe this announcement should send a strong message to all stakeholders that the joint action plan will be fully implemented and that stability is preferred to chaos,” added McGarrigle. “It’s time for those opposing this plan to get with the program and realize that the days of undercutting and downloading costs onto drivers are over.”

Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 300,000 members, Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector.

IN March, truck drivers reached an agreement with the federal and provincial governments and Port Metro Vancouver after intense bargaining.

Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association (VCTA) collective agreement expired in June 2012. During that time, the union had been raising concerns that long line-ups and wait times at the Port of Vancouver were costing truck drivers money. Unifor-VCTA called for increased rates of pay and wanted the rates standardized and enforced across the sector to put an end to under-cutting.

“This is an agreement that working truckers can be satisfied with,” said Paul Johal, Unifor-VCTA president. “We were also in this position in 2005, so enforcement will be critical to keeping the ports open.”

Vince Ready will still be conducting an independent review of the sector.