VANCOUVER, BC — Unionized container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver agreed to vote on a deal made with labor mediator Vince Ready, who’s been assigned to resolved the conflict by Transport Canada.
Unifor and the United Trucker Association (UTA) are recommending acceptance of the agreement to their members, who will vote on it on Saturday, March 8.
Both the unionized and non-unionized truckers walked off the job in protest of long wait times and other shipping conditions they thought were unfair.
Until the vote, Unifor members will stop picketing and go back to work, but UTA members will continue to protest.
Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. area director for Unifor commented: “We are pleased to say that we have reached an agreement that we will take to our members no later than this Saturday, which we hope, subject to approval of our members, will lead to a complete return to work at the ports in Vancouver.”
Details of the agreement have not been made public.
Ready will also review the key issues such as wages, working conditions and wait times at port terminals.
Unifor members have agreed to a 60-day truce while Ready works on his report.
Despite the recent tentative agreement, dozens of truckers stand to lose their permits by week’s end because of reports of threats, violence and intimidation.
“It’s [was] getting really ugly out there,” said Louise Yako, president and CEO of the BC Trucking Association (BCTA). “I’ve had reports from members who have had trucks out on the road … being pursued by people in cars, surrounding the trucks, yelling at the driver, trying to convince the driver to go back to their terminal and not work. I know that people are being called at home and being told solidarity is required and they shouldn’t report to work.”
About 20 permit-holders have been served notices of suspension based on evidence collected so far, Peter Xotta, vice-president of planning and operations at Port Metro Vancouver told the Globe and Mail.
At the height of the conflict, there were accusations of protesting truckers cutting break lines on two trucks and even throwing a rock through the driver’s side window of a moving truck, injuring its driver.
So far, 40 permits are expected to be suspended, Xotta said. The affected truckers have two weeks to defend themselves in writing or the suspension will lead to termination.