Ocean carriers are making
plans to divert cargo to U.S. ports in the Pacific Northwest from Port Metro
Vancouver, where a strike by truckers upset about driving rates has severely
handicapped operations, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The agency said in an automated message to importers and trade service providers that container lines have submitted requests to shift vessel calls and offload cargo destined to Vancouver to ports such as Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. Cargo could then be moved up to Vancouver by truck or rail or carriers could make a request to redeliver the cargo directly to a U.S. destination.
CBP is reminding carriers and customers that all U.S. security and trade laws will be enforced for rerouted cargo, including the requirement that an Importer Security Filing be filed in advance.
On Sunday, the Port Metro Vancouver Authority threatened to revoke the permits of drivers participating in the three-week-old job action.
About 1,400 union and non-unionized truck drivers are picketing and refusing to haul containers to and from the port because of complaints about minimum rates and lack of compensation for wait times at terminal gates. Last week, federal, regional and port officials released a 14-point plan to address the truckers' concerns, but trucking groups say they remain unsatisfied.
Port Metro Vancouver has the most stringent licensing system for delivery drivers in North America. The licenses are required to access the port and are conditional on truckers meeting environmental, safety and security standards. The licensing system was established in part to limit competition for loads at the port and help maintain higher piece rates following strikes in 1999 and 2005.
"A continued refusal by some truckers to provide [service to terminals] is likely to result in suspension or termination of their permits," Robin Silvester, president and chief executive officer of Port Metro Vancouver, said in a statement.
Terminal operators in Vancouver say they are still servicing without incident cargo that moves in and out of the port by intermodal rail.