BRAMPTON, Ont. - The GTA container strike that resulted in slashed tires, broken windows and as many as 400 drivers gathered outside the gates of CP's intermodal yard in Brampton, has finally come to...
POWER HUDDLE: Protesting truckers in the GTA gather to discuss their position during the recent GTA cartage strike.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP: Members of the GTA Truckers and Marine Operators Association had something to smile about after a deal was finally struck with the owners Sept. 27.
BRAMPTON, Ont. – The GTA container strike that resulted in slashed tires, broken windows and as many as 400 drivers gathered outside the gates of CP’s intermodal yard in Brampton, has finally come to an end.
After about two weeks of meetings, the drivers, operating under the name GTA Truckers and Marine Operators Association (GTA TMOA), and the owners have reached an agreement.
The drivers, who went back to work Sept. 28, said they were at odds with the owners because there had been no increase in their rates for about four years. They also complained they weren’t being compensated with fuel surcharges in light of recent spikes bringing prices well over $1/litre.
“We couldn’t afford to work, but we couldn’t afford not to work,” said GTA TMOA committee member, John Horan.
According to Horan, the agreement says that there will be a 25 per cent rate increase across the board for both local and highway container drivers.
Horan, his fellow committee members and their lawyers worked with the owners to create a binding agreement, which was distributed and agreed upon by most on Sept. 27.
The agreement was in effect as of Oct. 1 and will run through to Dec. 31, 2006.
Horan estimated that about 85 per cent of the companies signed the agreement, and for the GTA TMOA, that number was enough to get drivers back to work.
“We wanted them all to sign, but we realized we had to do what was best for everybody involved (including) the members and the companies,” he said. “We decided there were enough companies that had signed and we will work as hard as we can to get the other ones on board. It wouldn’t have made any sense to continue (to strike). It would have just dragged on and on.”
Both the GTA TMOA and the owners had also been working with the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) to help the process along.
“I was more in the middle,” said CIFFA executive director, George Kuhn, “sort of the driving force to get the community together to address it so we won’t have a full-blown kind of situation.”
Kuhn said he was very pleased with the way things turned out in the end.
“Our peak time is coming, what with Christmas hovering at the doorstep. We didn’t want backlog at the terminals.”
Though the story has an ultimate happy ending for most, negotiations were not always peaceful.
After prematurely stating on CIFFA’s daily e-newsletter that the GTA carter issue seemed resolved Sept. 21, those hopes were dashed by a posting the following day.
The posting reported scenes of violence, including gunfire, that came from a “small group of extremist drivers” who have still not been identified.
It went on to say that the group of drivers “apparently rejected the offer” put forth Sept. 21 and to “reinforce their will, they resorted to extreme violence” which CIFFA said included tires being slashed, windows broken and working drivers being shot at.
“This group of terrorist/extremist drivers have no social conscience, no community spirit, no appreciation for the extreme efforts undertaken by the community to reach out and bring an equitable settlement to fruition…They belong, in other words, to the bottom of the human barrel,” the CIFFA bulletin read.
Another CIFFA posting Sept. 27 said similar violence had occurred that weekend.
Truck News visited the scene outside of the CP gates in Brampton and found that most of the protesters were upset by the violence.
“It’s unfortunate,” said one driver speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I have no idea about who’s doing what or why they are doing it. It’s a very peaceful protest. Whoever is doing it, they are trying to jeopardize our situation (and) what we are trying to achieve.”
The representative went on to add that not only drivers who continued to work were being victimized, but many of the protesters themselves.
“We have had people out here (protesting), who have been sitting there with us from the first day, who didn’t even drive their truck, and even their windows are being broken. So we have no idea who is doing it,” he said.
As for the 15 per cent of companies who still have not signed the agreement, CIFFA has said it will continue to work with them to try and reach an agreement.
“Hopefully with our association and with (Kuhn) we can go on to bigger things and have somebody look out for us,” Horan said.
“If things work the way we all hope they will, then we can negotiate down the road without any stoppages.”