Truckers stage convoy to protest rate undercutting
Hundreds of truckers staged a slow-moving convoy in Delta, B.C., Saturday to push for enforcement of minimum pay rates.
The truckers say some non-union companies are undercutting industry rates -- and that Port Metro Vancouver is doing nothing to stop it.
Paul Johal of the Canadian Auto Workers Union says union companies pay the $100 minimum rate that was set after the truckers' strike in 2005, but others pay as low as $65.
"We want the port to enforce the non-union companies to pay the full rates," he said. "That's taking our work away from us."
It's a problem truckers hoped had been solved five years ago when undercutting led to a strike that saw the port shut down for weeks.
The Canadian economy lost millions of dollars until mediator Vince Ready was brought in to draft a solution. Ready established basic rates and an end to the undercutting – but union leaders say no one is enforcing the rules.
The union is also up in arms over plans recently announced by the port to bring in a new fee of $300 per licence per year starting in January 2011.
The port is also planning a ban on old trucks, regardless of operating condition, to begin in April.
Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labour, said if nothing is done to appease truckers it's just a matter of time before they strike again.
"I think these guys will have no choice at some point," Sinclair said. "Why do you get up in the morning, go in the cab of the truck at 3 o'clock in the morning, 4 o'clock in the morning, if you're not going to make a living?"
The union says a recent meeting with port officials was futile. They are now demanding a meeting with the federal government.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington