VANCOUVER, B.C. — The governments of Canada and B.C. revealed a joint initiative to maintain stable wages and working conditions for independent owner/operator truckers serving Lower Mainland ports.
The federal government passed a regulation directed at the Vancouver and Fraser River Port Authorities. The regulation will ensure independent owner/operators are compensated at no less than the rates of remuneration set out in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), which was recommended on July 29, 2005 by Vince Ready, a facilitator appointed by the Government of Canada and the Province of B.C.
On June 19, the government pre-published its proposed regulation requiring that owner/operators not subject to collective bargaining be paid at rates of remuneration that are equivalent to those set out under collective agreements that are binding on unionized owner/operators.
Under the revised regulation, independent owner/operators are to receive rates of remuneration that are set out under collective agreements, as long as the rates of remuneration are higher than or equal to those established in the MOA. The Port Authorities are required to incorporate this measure into their licensing regime.
“During the pre-publication consultation period, we received submissions from a number of stakeholder groups with a wide range of views on this matter,” said the Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. “The regulation was amended to provide a higher level of stability of rates for independent owner/operators, who during consultations, clearly indicated that rate sustainability is of utmost importance.”
During the summer of 2005, disruptions at ports in the B.C. Lower Mainland led to the creation of the MOA, which was put forward on behalf of the Lower Mainland container trucking industry by Ready for a two-year term.
“The MOA may have expired as a living document, but its rates of remuneration that have been so important to this industry for the past two years will continue by way of this regulation,” said Cannon.
Other changes made to the regulation include the specific exclusion of owner/operator truckers engaged in the long-haul industry, the requirement that collective agreements be posted on the Vancouver Port Authority’s Web site, and the requirement that this measure be reviewed by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities within two years of its coming into force.
“The review will not only allow us to assess the success of this measure, but the overall state of the local container trucking industry as well,” added Cannon.
The provincial government will develop and manage a fair and effective dispute resolution mechanism to support the new federal regulations. This will include investigation and adjudication of alleged contraventions of rates paid to owner/operators, including any allegations of companies undercutting minimum collective agreement rates.
“Our ports have to remain open and reliable if we’re going to capitalize on the economic opportunities associated with growing Asian trade,” said B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon. “We welcome the federal regulations, and I’m confident the dispute resolution system will ensure appropriate enforcement.”
The province has developed a Web site to support a stakeholders forum developed to address concerns of the container truck industry. The site – www.bctruckingforum.bc.ca – includes an informational on-line calculator that helps owner/operators understand their costs and compensation.
The federal regulation will be published in Canada Gazette, Part II on Aug. 2.
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