TRURO, N. S. – Construction truckers represented by the Truckers Association of Nova Scotia (TANS) received some good news at the group’s annual general meeting Apr. 18.
Transport Minister Brooke Taylor, keynote speaker at the event, announced the province would eliminate a fuel surcharge “clawback,”which required truckers to relinquish a portion of their fuel surcharge once pump prices dropped below a certain point. The clawback clause put less money in truckers’ pockets when diesel prices decreased, preventing them from benefitting from lower fuel prices and making it difficult to keep up with other skyrocketing costs, such as equipment and insurance.
The association has had a fuel surcharge in place with the province for government-funded construction projects since 2006.When diesel prices exceed $1.05 per litre, a fuel surcharge kicks in – beginning at 2% and increasing from there. But when fuel falls below 95 cents per litre, truckers are required to give back some of that revenue.
Such is the case today, with fuel floating around 94-96 cents per litre. Already in two months of 2009, the clawback was in effect.
“It seems to come across very negatively,” TANS executive director Wayne Onda explained. “It is a very positive sign to the TANS members that the government supports its people at such an uncertain time.”
TANS has been negotiating with the Department of Transportation to eliminate the clawback for some time now, and was pleasantly surprised when Taylor agreed to it at the recent meeting.
“He understands the trucking industry, because he’s been a trucker himself,”Onda said of the provincial Transport Minister.
Equally encouraging, was the announcement that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is in the process of being written, which will put the association’s “80/20 agreement” with the province into writing. The gentlemen’s agreement requires a minimum of 80% of all trucks used on some taxpayer-funded job sites to belong to TANS members. Onda said the 80/20 rule is usually respected, but not always. Putting an MoU in writing should help encourage and promote the 80/20 rule and hopefully entrench it into Nova Scotia law, he said. It’s also a goodwill gesture from the province that assures TANS members they will continue to receive work under the 80/20 rule.
“This is a huge step forward, bigger in my mind than the elimination of the fuel surcharge clawback,”said Onda. “Without the 80/20 rule, there is no fuel surcharge.”
The 80/20 rule dictates the set haul rate as well as the fuel surcharge received by TANS members.
It’s a significant rule for TANS members. For one, it ensures they receive the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal/TANS-negotiated pay rates and fuel surcharges. It also ensures that taxpayer-funded projects benefit the province’s small businesses.
TANS currently includes approximately 600 members, who operate about 900 trucks. About 100 members were at the annual meeting Apr. 18.The association also held its elections at the meeting. Sheldon MacIntyre was acclaimed as the director for Area 1 and Bill Dowe was re-acclaimed in Area 2. Gerry van Dyk was elected to lead Area 3.
The Executive for 2009 stands as: chairperson, Donald Whynot; vice-chair, Bill Dowe; and secretary treasurer, Stephen Orde.