ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. — The Owner-Operators’ Business Association of Canada (OBAC) and the Newfoundland & Labrador Independent Truckers’ Association (NLITA) have met with Marine Atlantic voice concerns.
The organizations representing frustrated truckers met with Marine Atlantic management to raise operational and service issues that are affecting drivers at the ferry’s Port aux Basques and North Sydney terminals.
Joanne Ritchie, OBAC’s executive director, said the meetings were worthwhile.
"There was some frank discussion, a lot of issues were put on the table," she said. "But most importantly, we’ve opened the lines of communication between Marine Atlantic and owner/operators, a segment of the industry whose concerns haven’t been adequately addressed."
Ritchie added: "Marine Atlantic looks at the big picture they consider overall service levels, and when they add up the numbers and average things out, they can point to improvements in a number of key areas. But that big-picture view often doesn’t make sense to an individual who’s looking at things from behind the wheel of a truck, especially if they’re left sitting on the dock for 24 or 36 hours."
Marine Atlantic president Roger Flood is a former executive with Day & Ross Transportation Group, so he is cognizant of the problems truckers face. He says he’s committed to improving service at the ports and welcomes feedback from the ferries’ users.
NLITA president Jon Summers was also pleased with the dialogue that took place.
“I believe we’ve made some positive first steps in resolving issues that have been plaguing owner-operators and drivers for years," he said. "In the past, we’ve expressed our concerns to local terminal staff, but this is the first time owner-operators have had the opportunity as a group to discuss the issues with Marine Atlantic senior management."
NLITA says it will continue working with Marine Atlantic on a provincial level while OBAC serves as a national stakeholder during talks aimed at finding a resolution.
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