Port drivers ready to strike, union warns

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Angry drivers at Port Metro Vancouver say they’re in a legal strike position, and they’re prepared to withdraw their services if a controversial pay plan isn’t reversed.

Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. area director for Unifor, the union that represents the drivers who haul intermodal containers to and from the port, told Today’s Trucking the new system costs owner-operators and drivers of at least $50 a day, or $250 a week.

He said the house was packed at a meeting of drivers Sunday.

“The tone was very angry, and disappointed at what is happening,” he said. “Many members wanted to go on strike immediately.”

Ian Boyko, a Unifor communications representative, said the truckers unanimously resolved to continue pursing a negotiated solution with government.

“There were discussions last week that made some movement,” he said. “Drivers resolved unanimously to take action if there is no resolution by Feb. 1.”

McGarrigle said that, the deadline notwithstanding, action could be taken sooner if there are any other “provocative developments.”

“We hope to see a resolution in days, not weeks,” he said.

He said drivers want to stick with the $26.28 per hour minimum for drivers, and established round-trip rates for owner-operators that were agreed to in a Joint Action Plan drafted in March.

“We’d been told that plan would be implemented within 30 days. Here we are eight months later,” he said.

Traffic in and out of the port is proceeding normally at this time, although the number of containers coming and going is currently in a down cycle.

 

 

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