Groups representing drayage drivers in the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia, said Wednesday they had reached a deal to end a month-and-a-half-old strike.
“We did it,” said a posting on the Facebook page of the United Truckers Association of British Columbia. “Back to work deal has been signed.”
The group is said to represent about 1,000 independent owner-operators.
The union said it had called a meeting for Thursday morning in Surrey to detail the deal to its members.
Unifor, Canada’s largest union, represents about 250 employee drivers and said it had “reached an agreement with the federal and provincial governments and Port Metro Vancouver that will ensure a return to work at the port -- and the end of debate regarding back-to-work legislation,” that was being fast-tracked through the provincial legislature.
“We have been clear from the very beginning that negotiation is the only way to achieve labor peace,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor's national president. “Forced-work legislation would have been defied by our members. I have a moral and legal obligation to act in the best interest of our members and I was not about to ask our members to be put in harm's way by returning to work. Defiance was the only option on the table for our union.”
The office of British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said the parties in the dispute had adopted a “refined joint action plan to address truckers' concerns” and that a federal mediator would meet with all parties, including UTA and Unifor leaders, “immediately upon the resumption of full operations to review, finalize and act upon the plan within 90 days.”
The government said with the agreement, it “is not proceeding with pending legislation that would have ordered a cooling-off period in the Unifor job action.”
The full action plan is available
. Some features of the agreement, according to a backgrounder supplied by Clark’s office are:
- Canada has committed to taking measures to increase trip rates by 12 percent over the 2006 "ready rates" within 30 days. The rates will apply to all moves of both full and empty containers.
- A mechanism will be established to attach a benchmark minimum rate for all hourly drivers to the federal regulation. The rate is anticipated to be initially instituted at $25.13 on hire and $26.28 after one year of service.
- Upon return to work, the fuel surcharge multiplier will be amended from 1 percent to 2 percent, which will result in a 14-percent fuel surcharge immediately upon return to work. This fuel surcharge must be paid to owner-operator drivers without exception and this will be enforced through increased and regular provincial audits.
- Port Metro Vancouver will begin a consultation period with trucking industry stakeholders on the restructuring of the trucking licensing system with the intent to implement initial reforms by June 15. The goal of the new system is to create a more stable trucking industry and control the total number of licensed trucks to avoid a surplus.
- Starting seven days after a return to work, a waiting time fee shall be paid at $50 per trip for time spent waiting at port terminals (Deltaport, Fraser Surrey Docks, Vanterm, Centerm) after 90 minutes of waiting time. At two hours of waiting time, an additional $25 fee will be paid per trip. At two-and-a-half hours of waiting time, an additional $25 fee will be paid per trip. Each additional half hour will be paid at a rate of $20.
TSI Terminal Systems Inc., a subsidiary of GCT Global Container Terminals Inc., which operates the Deltaport and Vanterm terminals in Port Metro Vancouver, said that it is working hard to return to normal operations and that truck gates will open for extended hours as needed to meet the needs of its cargo customers and the drayage community.
Those two terminals handle 75 percent of the cargo that moves through the port, but TSI noted that 70 percent of the cargo moves in and out of the terminal by rail, which continued to move during the strike.