Logging longer hours a concern for union

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The United Steelworkers union is making a vocal stance in its insistence that log truckers be required to drive fewer hours.

In a submission on truckers’ hours of work released last week, the union calls on the provincial government to improve on recent federal government hours-of-service regulations, citing a study by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

“The research is clear: performance begins to degrade after eight hours on duty, so that when employers force inhumanely long hours, it’s simply morally wrong,” stated Ron Corbeil, USW District 3 health, safety and environment coordinator.

Similar recommendations have been put forward by the Prince George Trucking Association, whose 600 members are represented by the United Steelworkers union. The union also represents log-haulers throughout Northern B.C. and the interior and coastal regions.

Under currently legislation, B.C. log truckers are allowed to drive 15 hours a day, with no hour restrictions per week, as long as log truckers travel within a 400-kilometre radius of their home base.

The new HoS regulations coming into effect in January 2007, would limit a driving day to 13 hours, with the addition of one in-service hour for a 14-hour workday and a limit of a 70-hour week or 120 hours in 14 days, which is reset after 36 or 72 hours off duty.

A recommendation by the B.C. Forest Safety Council would keep the driving day at 13 hours, with the addition of two more hours for in-service for a 15-hour workday. The safety council is also recommending an 80-hour weekly limit to span over six days.

National Safety Code regulations mandating hours of work only govern inter-provincial truckers, giving the province freedom to make its own rules for log truckers who stay within the provincial boundaries.

The recommendations to the B.C. government by the United Steelworkers would see the implementation of a 12-hour workday, five days per week; assurance of 12 hours between shifts; night shifts reduced to 10 hours, 48 straight hours of rest per week; pay to drivers at an hourly rate, not by the trip; and expansion of the hauling season to at least 10 months.

– with files from the Prince George Citizen

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