VANCOUVER, B.C. — The British Columbia government has begun ramping up the pressure to get striking truckers back on the job, but the truckers say the action isn’t helping resolve the dispute.
The province has started preparing back-to-work legislation to put an end to protests by container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver. The bill, which could be introduced in the legislature as early as Monday, March 24, is designed to get 250 members of Unifor off the picket lines and back behind the wheel. According to a government statement, the legislation will contain provision for a 90-day “cooling off” period.
In response to the government’s announcement, Unifor said even the idea of a back-to-work bill is doing nothing to address the truckers’ concerns or resolve the situation.
“B.C. transportation minister Todd Stone’s refusal to negotiate with container truck drivers and the introduction of forced-work legislation will only make matters worse in the port dispute,” said Unifor officials in a statement.
Paul Johal, president of Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association (VCTA), expressed his thoughts about how Stone has responded to the strike.
“The minister can’t expect to stick his head in the sand and make this go away,” said Johal. “A negotiated settlement is the only sustainable solution.”
Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president added, “Stripping workers of their right to negotiate fair working conditions is not leadership. We’re actively seeking a resolution that works for everyone, but that can’t be done if the minister doesn’t take workers’ rights seriously.”