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News  March 13, 2014 4:25PM

CIFFA urges “immediate action” by feds on Port Metro Vancouver crisis

TORONTO, Ont.--The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association has issued a statement about the current situation at Port Metro Vancouver, "which is now reaching a crisis level,” and the association is urging “decisive...


TORONTO, Ont.–The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association has issued a statement about the current situation at Port Metro Vancouver, “which is now reaching a crisis level,” and the association is urging “decisive action” be taken immediately to ensure that the port terminals remain open and able to receive Vancouver destined cargo.

“If the drayage operators are not back at work within a day or two, the consequences will be devastating. The terminals are full and we expect to hear soon that the terminals will effectively ‘close’ by Monday if the strike is not resolved immediately. As one member said yesterday, ‘vessel diversions, and declarations of force majeure, will soon be upon us,” CIFFA said.

“If the terminals at PMV cannot accept inbound Vancouver terminating cargo and vessels are not allowed to discharge those containers, there are only a few options – all of which are terrible and could bring ruin to Canada’s importers,” the association added. 

CN Rail has advised the association that while new services are suspended, the railway “has action plans in place to deliver reefer containers already at CN Intermodal Terminal in Vancouver as well as en-route. CN continues to monitor the situation very closely and is exploring options to resume reefer services ASAP,” the company said.

CIFFA has written to Ministers Raitt, Leitch and Fast, the Minister of Transport, Minister of Labour, and Minister of APG & International Trade, respectively, briefly outlining some of the consequences and urging immediate action on the part of the Government of Canada.

The letter, posted at www.ciffa.com, notes that Canada’s successful conclusion of a free trade agreement with South Korea this week “will most certainly fail to drive economic growth, employment or opportunity for Canadians if Canada’s premier Asian gateway at Port Metro Vancouver is not open for business. And, more importantly, Canada’s entire investment in international trade will be for naught if Canadian exporters and importers do not have a global transportation system that is reliable, trustworthy and competitively priced. Canada’s reputation in the global marketplace has already been damaged by the truckers’ actions at PMV over the past two weeks, following as they have, an extremely challenging winter,” said CIFFA.

According to CIFFA, one multinational CIFFA member firm advises that 20% of its Canadian PMV gateway cargo is already being or will be diverted to other ports, probably to US west coast ports.

“Importers and exporters are making the decisions they must take to get their goods to market. With no information on a possible resolution, who can blame them? The danger is that once these cargoes go to another port, they may never return to Vancouver,” the association said.

If the terminals at PMV cannot accept inbound Vancouver terminating cargo and vessels are not allowed to discharge those containers, there are only a few options – all of which are “terrible,” said CIFFA.

“Cargo could possibly be converted from Vancouver terminating to intermodal, discharged at Vancouver and railed to a Canadian city such as Calgary. This would, of course, be contingent on the carrier and the importer agreeing and on the railroads having the capacity to accept additional containers – not at all certain given the rail delays of the past several weeks. Once at another Canadian destination, alternative transload facilities would need to be found or containers would need to be trucked back to Vancouver. Costly and inefficient. Cargo could be left on the vessel and discharged at a US port, where it could sit in bond until PMV is open and able to receive Vancouver cargo again, at which time it could be loaded back onto a vessel and brought to PMV. However, storage and demurrage charges would most certainly apply (hundreds of dollars per day) and it is not certain that the US Customs and Border Protection would allow the cargo to offload as the ISF10+ 2 for US destined cargo or ISF 5+2 for intransit cargo may not have been filed. Fines are in the range of $5000 per shipment for failure to file,” the association noted.

If Vancouver containers were discharged at Tacoma or Portland for example and not left in bond on the docks there, the cargo would have to be transloaded at those ports as the equipment would need to be returned to those container yards. The association suggests that costs will be prohibitive and the same issues noted above regarding US advanced filing requirements will exist.

“We urge the Government of Canada to take immediate action to ensure that Canada’s cargo moves during this challenging time,” CIFFA stressed.


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8 Comments » for CIFFA urges “immediate action” by feds on Port Metro Vancouver crisis
  1. ken webster says:

    many truckers all over Canada support these truck owners and drivers. Many truckers and ex truckers are getting ready to expand the protests to some warehouses and container locations . The fed gov. needs to get this protest over and set truck rates in canada

  2. Cliff says:

    Maybe industry will get the point carriers are tired of being treated like crap, this is what happens when your workforce becomes a commodity.

  3. Wade Daye says:

    I have no sympathy for the Port of Vancover or CIFFA. They do not appear to like it very much when they take it on the chin like the truck operators have to on a daily basis. The share holders must be beside themselves, poor babies having to watch their profits shrink a little. You can only kick a dog so long before it will bite you back and this finally appears to be what is happening. These truckers as you call them would like to see a little profit themselves for their efforts.
    The rates at these ports should include a fair and equitable hourly rate basis for the truckers from the time the truck enters the port gate until it exits. Pay these people for their work. Does anyone know of any other group of workers who are basically forced to give so much free time away? Stop trying to squeeze the truck operators wallets so the shareholders can fatten theirs. Competitive edge should include the business people who haul the freight on the highways also. They to need profit to stay in business and prepare themselves for their retirement years. They put in a very large effort every day to try and make a decent living, let them realize this effort is worth what they are putting themselves through.

  4. Curt Bousquet says:

    Many people sitting at desks, who area associated with the treansportation industry, may not like the delays the “labour activities” are causing but we are behind you fighting for what is right and fair.
    If this was a new situation that may be different, but anyone watching the situation for years would’ve seen this coming.
    Top-down totaltarian managemanet has no place in the modern workforce.

  5. LARRY says:

    they want the gov. to mandate the truckers back to work. but what happen if the drivers and o/a say scew u and quit altogether then where are they going to.We have the same problem in the oil field in northern b c and ab 3 years ago iwas making150 an hr fuel was under a buck we got paid in 45 days after month end now were getting 130 an hr and fuel is anywhere from 1.35 to 1.50 and we wait up to 90 days for money I quit

  6. John Pringle says:

    It has been a long time that the agreement has lapsed, the government did not believe it was important then to step in. The government should stay out of it for the same period that way when a situation happens maybe they would think it was important the next time.
    The union should be setting up classes, maybe the government will step in and get all those drivers fast-track to get there boarder paperwork up to date, maybe give them a special tax deduction for equipment, to handle the shipping boom? Tacoma is a good day drive, there port is a lot more efficient and they know when you can pick-up your load , minimal waiting.
    Just a thought!

  7. ken webster says:

    The gov.(s) needs to truck owner and drivers back to work.The gov knew there were shippers banning trucker who said they should be paid( the trucker) when waited 23 hours to get unloaded. Thus has happened in other parts of Canada and thousands of $ have been with held when the truck owner complained and the gov.(s) did nothing

  8. steve says:

    All the large shippers that the strike is hurting should set open meeting with Fed. Off. in each province very soon like Monday.All drivers and lease opp. and truck owners given a voice to fix trucking.If they did that and acted on the drivers concerns the strike would over in 2 days after the new rules were announced

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