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Editorial Comment: 2005: The summer of discontent

It's been a wild 12 months in the trucking industry, with many pockets of owner/operators choosing to park their rigs in protest of rising fuel costs and insufficient compensation....




It’s been a wild 12 months in the trucking industry, with many pockets of owner/operators choosing to park their rigs in protest of rising fuel costs and insufficient compensation.

Here’s a quick run down of some of the trucking strikes that have occurred over the past year, and there are undoubtedly others: Northeastern Ontario loggers; B.C. Interior loggers; Lower Mainland gravel haulers; Edmonton gravel haulers; Vancouver container haulers; and now another log hauler strike is in full swing in Northern B.C.

In most cases, owner/operators parked their rigs in peaceful protest and returned to work when they were satisfied they could make a decent living under a revised compensation package. Work stoppages are not to be taken lightly, but in some cases they are a necessary evil.

If all other avenues have been pursued and truckers are faced with two options: Walk off the job or go broke, it’s hard to blame them for parking their rigs until their concerns are addressed. Usually cooler heads prevail and both sides reach a mutually-beneficial agreement.

However, the recent strike by the Vancouver Container Truckers Association (VCTA) has clearly crossed the line and the results have been disturbing.

With the number of gunshots fired at trucks and buildings (some of them occupied), it’s a miracle nobody has been killed.

Truckers who have nothing to do with VCTA members and their employers have been caught in the crossfire and some have been forced to stay home in fear of their life.

Not that home’s a safe haven, some working truckers have reportedly had their homes targeted and families threatened.

All because they are satisfied with the arrangement they have with their employer and are trying to make a decent, honest living.

This is Canada. Nobody should have to fear for their life because of their beliefs.

It’s sickening that as this strike has drawn on, the general public has begun thinking of truckers in the same light as drug dealers and hoodlums.

Who can blame them when the daily newspapers run front page stories of gangland-style shoot-ups at trucking yards?

While Vancouver container haulers may have a legitimate beef about their pay packages, there’s simply no excuse for jeopardizing the lives of their cohorts who simply have the good fortune of working for a company that pays them fairly for the work that they do.

What’s equally disconcerting is the lack of arrests that have taken place during this debacle.

One has to wonder if the police are doing everything in their power to track down the perpetrators of these crimes of intimidation. Or are they simply treating the violence as ‘just another labour dispute?’

When guns are involved, it’s more than just a labour dispute. But maybe it will take the loss of a life before law enforcement and government take these actions seriously. Hopefully in the future, striking container haulers will negotiate like businessmen – not mobsters.

– James Menzies can be reached by phone at (403) 275-3160 or by e-mail at jamesmenzies@shaw.ca.


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