VANCOUVER, B.C. — Truckers who haul freight to the Port of Vancouver have voted unanimously to support their union bargaining committee, and hold a strike vote in January in an effort to win new contracts, according to a statement from the Vancouver Container Trucking Association-Canadian Auto Workers (VCTA-CAW) Local 2006.
More than 300 truckers who are members of VCTA-CAW Local 2006, attended a union meeting in Surrey Sunday, Dec. 21 to discuss the lack of progress in reaching a new contract. The current collective agreements expire on Dec. 31, 2008.
“This kind of support shows that our members understand that the only time the governments and port authorities listen, is when there is a serious threat to the operations at the Port,” said VCTA-CAW Local 2006 President Paul Johal. “We need to see a moratorium on company-owned trucks entering the ports
and the agreed upon rates paid by all the companies,” added Johal, whose union represents more than 750 truckers hauling freight to and from the Port.
The union has discussed its concerns with representatives of the Ministry of Transportation, which investigates companies that do not pay agreed upon rates, according to Paul Uppal, VCTA-CAW Local 2006 Business Agent, who said the system is not working.
“There needs to be more investigation and stiffer penalties, to those who undercut the system,” he added. “Currently when a company is caught undercutting, the penalty is to pay back what is owed to the drivers for the three months that is audited. If a company has been undercutting for a year or more, it is just the cost of doing business. We need penalties that include the suspension of Port access. Of the 40 companies that have been audited, 23 have not been paying the proper rates, (yet) none have had the port licences suspended.”
Many members raised issues of undercutting, wait times, and lack of work available as the result of the port issuing too many licenses, said Hemi Mitic, assistant to the CAW national president. “The vote speaks loud and clear. Our members are not prepared to stand by and watch their livelihood destroyed without a fight. No one wants to see a strike by owner/operators at the Port, but these outstanding issues have to be resolve before any collective agreements are signed.”
The union states that it will be working to find a solution to the licensing issue and enforcement problems. Failing that, a strike vote will be held and a strike deadline established before the end of January.
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