BREAKING NEWS: BCTA gets sucked into container hauler strike

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — There’s been a new twist in the Vancouver container hauler strike, and it’s not sitting well with the B.C. Trucking Association and many of its members.

Just when the situation looked like it was returning to normal, the Vancouver Port Authority announced that all trucks entering the port must have a licence which binds them to its controversial Order in Council as well as a two-year Memorandum of Agreement with the Vancouver Container Truckers Association (VCTA).

The problem is, long-haul truckers, companies that run their own trucks and companies that pay their O/Os on an hourly basis must now also comply with the agreement, even though they had nothing to do with the dispute in the first place and have no affiliation with the VCTA.

The original Order in Council exempted these carriers and their drivers from obtaining the special permits, but it was revised on Friday and the exemption was retracted.

"Forcing trucking companies into the independent contractor/MOA model has the potential to cause significant disruption to hundreds of stable companies in the trucking industry, not to mention services provided to both local and long haul port customers," Paul Landry wrote in a tersely worded letter to federal Transport Minister, Jean-C. Lapierre.

He added "Many trucking companies that have invested in equipment and drivers or that have stable relationships with owner/operators who are compensated on hourly rates or that have long-haul operations will not sign the MOA, will not apply for port licences and will have to abandon their shippers to VCTA carriers."

The BCTA has traditionally distanced itself from labour disputes, but with the latest ruling by the Vancouver Port Authority, it now finds itself caught in the crossfire. Many of the association’s members were not directly involved in the dispute, yet parked their trucks to protect their drivers and equipment from the intimidation tactics and violence exhibited by some VCTA members. Now, they find themselves unable to return to work without agreeing to a memorandum of agreement with the controversial group.

It’s an ironic twist, which may see trucking companies that weren’t part of the dispute in the first place locked out of the port at a time when it is backlogged with thousands of containers. Landry told Truck News the BCTA has not advised its members on whether or not to sign the new MOA. Instead, it’s appealing to federal officials and the Vancouver Port Authority to exempt carriers that own their own rigs, pay their drivers by the hour or run long-distance.

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