VANCOUVER – After a tense 28-day labour dispute ended in March, B.C. truckers are threatening another imminent strike at Port Metro Vancouver.
The truckers, which have been back on the job for almost three months, are demanding to receive wage hikes that were included in the agreement reached earlier this year. That deal put an end to the nearly month-long dispute that left hundreds of millions of dollars of cargo stranded.
Many truckers are claiming they are still not getting what they were promised and are accusing companies of breaking the rules in an attempt to make a profit.
“There’s clearly too many trucking companies out there that I think realize that the days of undercutting and their wild west tactics are coming to an end and they’re fighting bitterly to stop that,” Unifor BC Area director Gavin McGarrigle says.
Premier Christy Clark signed a new 14-point plan for resolving the strike with Unifor president Jerry Dias and Iqbal Grewal of the United Truckers’ Association on March 26. Among the 14 points in the deal was a minimum wage of $25.13/hour for all drivers.
Companies were to pay drivers higher rates beginning April 3 but according to Unifor, many have yet to see that increase reflected in their paycheques.
The union is now in talks with the Container Dispute Resolution Office, trying to find ways to hold companies accountable.
The province and port have set up a ‘whistleblower’ line, which allows drivers to raise concerns about anything from payment to harassment. In addition to the whistleblower line, several companies will also face audits in the coming weeks and those found to be skirting the rules could face fines or risk losing port access.
Unifor’s union directors says if something serious isn’t done soon, a dispute could erupt overnight, noting truckers are still in a legal strike position and do not have to give 72 hours strike notice.
“Our members are very frustrated and are basically telling us ‘you can’t do anything right now, let’s walk out and take matters into our own hands,'” Paul Johal, Vancouver Container Truckers Association.
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