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Ready or Not: Controversial VanPort licence scheme still in effect
VANCOUVER – Carriers contracting independent truckers at Lower Mainland container terminals still have to abide by provisions laid out by government mediator Vince Ready in order to obtain a valid licence to access ports, says the Vancouver Port Authority. According the VPA, the “Vince Ready Memorandum of Agreement” is still in effect, despite that a Order in Council, which gave the rule legislative authority, expired last week without being renewed by the Conservative government. “All container trucking companies wishing to access lower mainland ports must continue to be a signatory to and be in compliance with the (Vince Ready) Memorandum of Agreement dated July 29, 2005 in respect of all rates, charges, terms and conditions as set out therein. The terms of the truck license (TLS) remain unchanged,” the VPA stated in a notice to all transport carriers that work the ports. “All questions of interpretation or compliance with the agreement shall continue to be referred to the arbitration board described therein.”

Even though its expired, VPA still requires carriers to
abide by Ready's plan for container hauling licence
The provisions drafted by Ready last summer effectively ended a economically crippling six-week strike by 1,200 independent container haulers, protesting rate-cutting, low wages, and skyrocketing fuel costs. The plan to mandate rate increases and fuel surcharges for the owner-ops was rejected by most carriers. But after several weeks, the VPA, supported by the B.C. government and Transport Canada, implemented a mandatory interim licensing system, part of which forced carriers accessing the port to accept Ready’s provisions. Last week, David Emerson, federal Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway, said the Tory government would not extend that interim scheme. Instead, the feds published new "Regulations Amending the Port Authorities Operations,” which require carriers to comply with “a set of minimum conditions.” "The bottom line is this port and this gateway are not going to work because the law says it must work," Emerson said. "It's going to work because the different parties that have a stake in the smooth operation in the gateway system want it to work. And that's the purpose of the forum.” As for what independents should be paid, the Tories’ regulation only states that companies abide by “ applicable law in respect of rates of remuneration that the owner-operator of a tractor covered by an authorization is to receive …” Emerson added that this government has no interest in regulating rates, but would closely monitor that contracts and bargaining agreements are honored. Both federal and B.C. transport ministries, along with the VPA, said they would also create a forum of stakeholders charged with resolving the ongoing contract problems between owner-ops and carrier companies working the ports. The Vancouver Container Truck Association and the Canadian Auto workers threatened to launch another “catastrophic” strike if the previous licence system wasn’t extended. No major strikes were held as of Sunday night, but earlier in the weekend a VPA spokesmen told local media the group of discussing their next move with lawyers. Meanwhile, the VPA says recent upgrades to its Strategic Trucking Program should also help mitigate some tension at the ports. Chief among the changes is mandatory compliance with container terminal reservation systems. Also required is mandatory participation in a truck monitoring and vehicle location program, disclosure and sharing of vehicle and driver safety information, enhanced environmental and safety standards. i
 
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