Port Stability at Issue as CAW Local 2006 Heads into Negotiations
June 25, 2010, 12:00 PM EST
The Vancouver Container Truckers Association / VCTA-CAW Local 2006 served notice to bargain today to over a dozen separate companies engaged in moving containers to and from the various lower mainland ports.
Port Metro Vancouver terminals (PMV or 'Ports') saw a massive withdrawal of service by 1200 owner operators in 2005 to protest working conditions and a race to the bottom on rates. The dispute disrupted port operations and cost the provincial and national economies hundreds of millions of dollars.
As a result, the federal government amended the Port Authorities Operations Regulations to set up a licensing system with benchmark and minimum rates for applicable owner operators. The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also set up a program to investigate and make recommendations to PMV to enforce the correct rates. PMV can sanction, suspend, or cancel the licenses of offenders.
"It seems the Ports aren't that interested in rate enforcement as they won't name companies with suspended or cancelled licenses" said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle.
B.C. Labour Minister Murray Coell expressed concerns about the lack of timely action on the Ministry of Transportation recommendations in a letter sent to PMV on June 3, 2010 (copies available upon request): "Since December 2007, approximately $645,765 has been collected on behalf of 351 owner-operators". Minister Coell added "If actions are not taken on offenders swiftly, I believe the effectiveness of the program will be seriously undermined."
"The Ports need to be ordered to do a better and more transparent job of rate enforcement. The Port regulations need to be changed to provide for true stability instead of the fake appearance of stability that we are left with today," said McGarrigle.
"If the federal government doesn't make these changes soon, the bargaining environment will be difficult and the current rate system at the Ports could fall apart leading to massive instability - this is an outcome that nobody wants to see, especially our members," McGarrigle added.
"We can't have stability at the Ports with an increasing number of unscrupulous container truck companies competing in a race to the bottom," said VCTA-CAW Local 2006 President Paul Johal.
The VCTA-CAW Local 2006 collective agreements expire in 6 days on June 30, 2010. No dates for collective bargaining have yet been set.