SURREY, B.C. — Gravel haulers in the Lower Mainland of B.C. are once again threatening to walk off the job due to what the Teamsters union is calling “unacceptably low trucking rates.”
Late last week more than 200 owner/operators gathered to discuss the issue, following a reduction in trucking rates for gravel haulers working on the Port Mann Bridge project. Specifically, the truckers are upset by the project’s lead contractor, Peter Kiewit and Sons, which they say reduced the gravel haulage rate from previously established rates.
According to the Teamsters union, the hourly rate for a tandem gravel truck should be $93.45 according to the B.C. Government’s Blue Book. However, the union accuses Kiewit of paying just $65 per hour.
“When Kiewit and its partner Flatiron Constructors won the $2.465 billion contract early this year, it was a fixed-price contract based on prevailing supply costs at that time,” said Don McGill, president of the B.C. Teamsters Union. However, he added the economic slowdown has hit construction truckers hard and given the company the opportunity to reduce rates.
“This artificial rate-cutting is not only harmful to the trucking industry and the owner/operators, it causes trucks to go out on the road in an unsafe condition,” McGill said. “This puts the public at risk from trucks with poor brakes or other mechanical flaws which put the lives of everyone in peril. If truckers are forced to choose between keeping their truck in safe working order or putting food on the table for their families, this is not a healthy situation.”
According to the union, owner/operators who attended the meeting were unanimously in favour of taking action to restore the former rate. While some owner/ops called for immediate action and an “immediate shutdown of the industry,” others are willing to explore other options in further meetings this week.
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