Leclerc elected to second term as QTA president

MONTREAL, Que. – The Quebec Trucking Association has re-elected Serge Leclerc as its president, bringing the Clarke Transport Quebec executive into a second term.

Marc Brouillette and Jacques Dulude will act as vice-presidents, Jean-Claude Fortin as secretary, and Jacques LaPalme as treasurer in the association’s newest board. The QTA also elected Yves Carmel to a new position representing truck leasers and renters.

Leclerc emphasized that the QTA’s goals for the coming year should be to look at recruiting and retention practices that will not only get the best candidates hired, but will keep them motivated and respected while on the job.

“The lack of drivers could easily become a nightmare for us all. We should try to promote the profession among young people, or this problem of driver recruitment will erode the industry,” he said.

Leclerc suggested that the industry could look at developing better, more accessible training programs for new drivers. “We also have to be open-minded, and develop innovative ways of solving retention problems. We have to improve the quality of life for drivers,” he said.

Still, problems with the provinces’ existing workers continue.

Leclerc reflected on the owner/operator crisis in Quebec that has been an ongoing concern since the fall of 1998, when owner/operators started protesting for better working conditions, some of them advocating the creation of a collective agreement and unionization.

“The problem is not behind us. It’s a bit like a wound that doesn’t heal,” said Leclerc. “We told the labor and transport ministers that we, the association, weren’t OK with being pinned as ‘the voice of unionization’. Our vision of owner/operators is one where they are entrepreneurs and that we would support a professional association of owner/operators that encourages better management — not unionization as the solution.”

Leclerc said that in a deregulated industry such as trucking, what’s at stake with unionization is the work structure of the entire industry, and not just that of owner/operators.

“We shouldn’t have to have labor strife,” said Leclerc.

A series of regulatory issues also remain at the forefront of QTA activities.

Leclerc said that although the trucking industry has to be flexible to meet the demands of clients, hours of service rules should also ensure safety in the industry. “Hours of service cannot be abused if the industry wants to gain respect,” he said.

During the recent fuel crisis, which saw truckers’ incomes erode across the country as they tried to meet increasing costs, there were the inevitable conflicts with shippers, who many truckers felt were not assuming their fair share of the burden.

Leclerc said that carrier/trucker/shipper relationships have to be improved, and that better communication is the key.

“A better informed shipper will be easier to deal with, and will cut more slack,” he said.

And Ontario and Quebec are even close to signing an interprovincial agreement on weights and dimensions.

“This agreement will be instrumental to Quebec’s ability to compete outside the province. The association should represent as many members as possible.

Leclerc said the trucking industry has to gather force to combat its bad name.

“We have to build a strong organization, against such groups as CRASH, and the rail industry, which expends a lot of money each year trashing other modes of transport,” said Leclerc. “You can count on us (the QTA) entirely to put the emphasis on all of these plans.” n

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