Audit Finds Vancouver Port Truckers Underpaid

by Evan Lockridge

VANCOUVER, BC – Truck drivers serving Port Metro Vancouver have been underpaid by container trucking companies as part of a settlement following a March 2014 strike at the port, according to an audit, while the union representing truckers is challenging a new truck licensing system at the facility.

According to Office of the British Columbia Container Trucking Commissioner, six audits of fleets have been completed. It found they did not meet their obligations to pay their drivers rates retroactive to early April 2014, as required.

The commissioner’s office is currently evaluating what sanctions it will take against the six licensees.

A report by Business in Vancouver said the names of the trucking companies have not been released pending their notification.

It also reported the union representing some 1,800 truckers at the port, Unfior, said the amount owed to truckers is “in the millions.”

In a statement, British Columbia Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone said another 13 audits are under way to see whether other container trucking companies are complying with the Container Trucking Act. It was passed and put into law following the 2014 Port Metro Vancouver truck driver strike, to bring rate regulation to the facility as well as appointing a container trucking commission for BC to enforce the rules.

“A number of other audits are ongoing and when complete, the status will be posted to the commissioner’s website,” Stone said. “If an audit finds a licensee isn’t meeting its obligations under the Container Trucking Act and its regulations, the commissioner’s office has the authority to issue an order of repayment of monies owed to drivers and impose sanctions to achieve compliance under the act.”

According to Stone, the Container Trucking Act and its regulations clearly outline the minimum rates and retroactive pay requirements to be paid to drivers and the consequences of violating the law.

He also said the law is being enforced, despite the recent departure of controversial trucking commissioner Andy Smith earlier this month. Unifor was especially critical of the appointment of Smith seven months ago, because he is the longtime president of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, which represents ship owners and terminal operators.

In the meantime, Unifor has filed a challenge in federal court to what is says are inadequate and uneven new environmental measures at Port Metro Vancouver put in place by officials.

Under the expiring policy, port truck drivers’ vehicles were tested and upgraded to comply with emissions standards through opacity testing. But the new Port Metro Vancouver policy bans trucks over 10 years old without any exceptions based on mileage, engine age, or emissions compliance.

Unifor alleges that many truck drivers with older but well-maintained vehicles will suffer needlessly.

“The port has haphazardly applied rules that have little to do with regulating emissions,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s BC area director. “We want to work collaboratively with the port and the BC government to develop industry-compliant regulations that help control emissions and don’t cause chaos for truckers trying to earn a living.”

The union notes that other jurisdictions have offered compensation and incentives for drivers, including the nearby Port of Seattle offering to match truck purchase price up to US$27,000.

The port is also being accused of selective application of the new regulations, claiming its own on-dock vehicles are exempt from the truck age limitation.

“The first sign that rules are unfair is when you exempt yourself from them,” said McGarrigle.


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