Port restores fleet’s licence

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Port of Vancouver has re-instated the operating licence of PRTI Transport in Delta, B.C., now that the company has begun to pay its owner/operators an hourly wage.

The port authority began insisting on such wage agreements, and introduced a new licensing and scheduling system, to end a month-long strike by owner/operators last August and shorten waiting times at the port.

A PRTI terminal manager, who declined to be named, told Truck News that the fleet had agreed to the Vancouver Port Authority’s hourly wage conditions last fall, but “under protest”. As things stand now, while they are on port property, PRTI Transport Inc. agrees to pay owner/operators an hourly wage.

However, there is still a sense at PRTI that the issue may end up before the courts. Although nothing has been officially filed, PRTI’s lawyers are continuing to talk to Vancouver Port Authority lawyers.

“We were challenging it through the legal system, but we still don’t know (where the process has gone),” said the PRTI source.

In October, PRTI told Truck News that it didn’t feel the port should dictate how to pay owner/operators, who were making more money with zone rates than truckers paid by the hour.

PRTI Transport initially refused to comply with the port’s decision to issue licences only to companies paying an hourly wage. The Port of Vancouver cancelled the carrier’s licence and permits in October 1999, and in a letter to PRTI said that the company could re-apply for a non-exclusive interim licence once it complied with the terms and conditions of the licensing requirements.

Paul Landry, president of the British Columbia Trucking Association, calls the port licensing system “ineffective and wasteful.”

“We’ll be asking them to abolish this in 2000,” he says. “We understand the safety issues, but let’s deal with the problems. Licensing doesn’t deal with this.

“The biggest investment to be made involves making a scheduling system,” he adds. n

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