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Truckers rally for port deal extension

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Container truck drivers rolled out in droves in an effort to persuade the federal government to ...

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Container truck drivers rolled out in droves in an effort to persuade the federal government to extend a temporary agreement, which last summer brought an end to a 47-day work dispute in Vancouver’s ports.

With the agreement set to expire this week, federal and provincial government officials gathered in Vancouver with the port system’s stakeholders to discuss solutions to ensuring prosperity in truck container traffic.

Last summer more than 1,000 drivers who haul containers through the port went on a seven-week strike, which cost the Canadian economy approximately $500 million.

An order-in-council was eventually established requiring carriers to agree to a set rate to pay its drivers. The Vancouver Port Authority would issue licences to complying companies and refusing to sign the agreement would negate access to the coastal ports.

The temporary agreement has been renewed on a couple of occasions, but the new federal government is looking to go in a new direction.

According to the Vancouver Sun, federal International Trade Minister, David Emerson told a news conference that the order would not be renewed and instead announced the creation of a forum of stakeholders to ensure the port operations run smoothly.

There is concern amongst the container haulers that if the order is not renewed companies will be free to undercut other carrier rates and the end result could be another work stoppage.

Recently the Vancouver Port Authority announced upgrades to its mandatory Truck Licensing System with an emphasis on a utilizing a new reservation system, which will go into effect on May 25 following a 60-day transitional period.

The new licensing requirements also include mandatory participation in a truck monitoring and vehicle location program, disclosure of vehicle and driver safety information, enhanced environmental and safety standards, and compliance with designated truck routes.

The port authority is also requiring carriers to utilize the extended hours of operation at terminal truck gates.

The extended hours are another cause for concern among drivers who fear the longer day could force drivers to work beyond Hours-of-Service regulations.

– with files from the Vancouver Sun

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