TORONTO, Ont. - On Sept. 8, 150 truckers roared into Queen's Park armed with picket signs to protest wait times at Canadian National's Brampton Intermodal Terminal (BIT).More than 50 cars, escorted by...
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Truck drivers organized at Queen's Park to show they mean business and garner media attention.
TORONTO, Ont. – On Sept. 8, 150 truckers roared into Queen’s Park armed with picket signs to protest wait times at Canadian National’s Brampton Intermodal Terminal (BIT).
More than 50 cars, escorted by three bob-tailed tractors honking their horns, maneuvered their way through traffic on University Avenue and circled Queen’s Park Avenue six times before parking around the circle. Protesters then mounted the steps of the legislature, where their procession was supervised by six police officers on bicycle and on foot.
Protesting were angry truck drivers who get paid by the move, not by the hour, to move containers from CN’s BIT. They said they are unable to make a living because of excess wait times.
“In order to make a living we have to move containers, but when you pull into the CN rail yard, you are doomed. It used to be two to three hours at one time and now it has gotten to the point where it is usually at least six hours, which is ridiculous, and they don’t seem to care,” said driver Harts Guttmann.
Hardeep Singh, a concerned driver, took a break from chanting to share his thoughts.
“We only have 13 hours to work each day and if you’re sitting in the yard for most of it, you can’t possibly make money to feed your family, pay for your mortgage or even for your truck,” said Singh.
After six days of rallying outside CN’s BIT on Intermodal Drive in Brampton, drivers decided it was time to attract more attention.
“We’ve been protesting for a week up there (Brampton) but the media hasn’t come up to listen to us or to find out what the problem is, so that’s why we are at Queen’s Park today. Maybe there are some political leaders here and hopefully some media will come out to see what’s going on. We need the media’s attention to help us to get out from under this problem, so that is why we have come downtown. And we bring some hope with us that this will be a positive step,” said JNL/Aquaterra driver, Narinder Dhindsa, who was anxious to get the demonstration underway.
After all 150 drivers marched up the Queen’s Park walkway, Container Carriers Owner Operators Association of Ontario’s (CCOOAO) president, Abdi Nasir Yusuf met them with an enthusiastic cheer at a podium set up before the legislature steps.
Yusuf told his fellow drivers that they must make enough noise to bring the politicians out of the building so their needs can be heard. And they did just that.
Amidst the ruckus, driver Eli Yanko, told Truck News that the trucking industry is at the base of the economy, and he hoped that the attention garnered at Queen’s Park would do some good.
But Guttman was a little skeptical that government officials would listen to them.
“I don’t even know if we are talking to anyone, my assumption is that because of the election going on there is probably nobody here. We might be yelling at an empty building but with media coverage, you never know what could happen, there may be enough pressure. Even just the fact that we aren’t working is putting pressure on the situation too,” said Guttman.