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Former O/O collecting signatures against HoS changes

STITTSVILLE, Ont. - A former owner/operator turned lobbyist who claims he has gathered more than 5,000 names on a petition against the proposed new Hours-of-Service for long-distance truck drivers, sa...


SIGNED UP FOR A FIGHT: Trucker-cum-lobbyist Peter Turner continues to collect signatures on a petition against new hours of service despite that he may be fighting a losing battle.
SIGNED UP FOR A FIGHT: Trucker-cum-lobbyist Peter Turner continues to collect signatures on a petition against new hours of service despite that he may be fighting a losing battle.

STITTSVILLE, Ont. – A former owner/operator turned lobbyist who claims he has gathered more than 5,000 names on a petition against the proposed new Hours-of-Service for long-distance truck drivers, says he’ll challenge new HoS all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if and when they become law later this year.

“This is going to court. This is discrimination. There’s no other industry that’s going to ask their people to work 84 hours a week. It sets a dangerous precedent. Everybody should be in an uproar,” says Peter Turner.

Turner, who was an owner/operator for 22 years, is now trying to make a career out of being a voice for O/Os. Last September, he started a Web site called The Truckers Voice, and is hoping to eventually have 100,000 O/Os become members and be a powerful lobbying voice. He currently has about 100 members who have signed up through his Web site, Turner says.

He appeared before the federal Standing Committee on Transportation and Government Operations last summer, and also wrote to every provincial transportation minister, to protest HoS changes. The federal committee endorsed the changes and they are now under review by the provinces.

But Turner refuses to give up the fight. Despite being told, he says, that “your names don’t count,” Turner continues to gather names on a petition and encourage O/Os to write to both their provincial transportation minister and Federal Transport Minister David Collenette to protest the HoS changes. He even provides contact information for the provincial and federal ministers on his Web site.

“I have names from right across this country,” says Turner, explaining that he has talked with drivers at truck stops in North Bay, Sudbury, Windsor, Toronto and Ottawa who were from all parts of Canada. “I was in North Bay and I walked up to every driver. I talked to every one of them,” he says.

Turner showed Truck News one signed petition form full of signatures collected at a Husky truck stop in Pickering, Ont. “I have lots more of them at home,” he says.

Turner says to date, he has collected over 5,000 names. “The way the government looks at it, there are 100 other people who think the same way. So to me, that’s 500,000 names.”

Turner says he has signed petitions forwarded to Ottawa, but a spokesperson for Collenette’s office told Truck News that the transport minister’s office doesn’t have “that petition.”

Turner vows he’s willing to launch a court battle to challenge new HoS regulations. “That’s where this is going,” he says. The changes to HoS that are anticipated to become law this fall if they are endorsed by the provinces, will create an 84-hour, seven-day work cycle for truck drivers.

They will be allowed to drive a maximum of 13 hours per day, with a maximum of 14 hours on duty. Off-duty requirements would be eight hours of sleep time, plus two other short breaks. At the end of a duty cycle, drivers would have to take 36 hours off to rest, and reset their HoS to zero.

Turner believes setting an 84-hour work week for truck drivers means that it opens the flood gates for other industries to start looking at doing the same thing for their workers. He also believes it will create a dangerous situation on highways because truckers will be running hard without proper rest. “A 36-hour sleep cycle doesn’t work for truckers,” he says. HoS is a labor issue, not a transportation issue, Turner believes.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the Teamsters Union endorsed the HoS changes, with CTA chief executive officer David Bradley telling Truck News last summer that “The trucking industry is leading all other transport industries in its sensitive, sensible and scientific approach to hours of service.”

But Turner feels the CTA, and the federal committee that endorsed changes to HoS, were looking out for the interests of carriers at the expense of O/Os who haul the freight. “Nobody understood this law. I honestly believe none of the feds and people at the top ever read it before they rubber-stamped it,” he says.

There’s no love lost between Turner and the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA), which was reluctant to comment about the driver-cum-lobbyist when contacted about Turner’s petitioning efforts.

The HoS issue isn’t the only one Turner is willing to challenge. He admits that he’s “angry” at the trucking industry because it doesn’t give O/Os the respect they deserve as business people.

Turner, who also admits that he has been called a radical, says he’ll deal with any driver issue his members want him to deal with. “I’m hoping to make this my life work, keeping this industry in line. There’s nobody to keep the industry in line and show the other side,” he says.


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