Truckers to enter talks on plan to end Vancouver port strike

Fri Mar 14, 2014 5:02pm EDT
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By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Representatives of unionized and nonunionized container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver were set to meet with government and port officials on Friday to discuss a plan designed to end a 14-day strike at Canada's largest port.

The plan, revealed late on Thursday by the Canadian and British Columbia governments and the port authority, sets out to address the concerns of the striking drivers on fair pay, reduced wait times at container facilities and the creation of an industry oversight committee.

It also called for the striking drivers to return to work immediately, ending the more than two-week job action that has crippled operations and delayed the transport of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods.

"We have a lot of questions about this document to be answered," said Gavin McGarrigle of Unifor, the union that represents about 400 container truck drivers. "We also note there are some glaring holes in the document."

McGarrigle said the union leadership expected to meet with the government and port representatives later on Friday to review the 14-point plan. The United Trucking Association, which speaks for the independent drivers, will also be in the talks.

Hundreds of nonunionized drivers parked their rigs on February 26 in protest over services and pay at the city's port facilities. Unionized workers voted to join the strike just days later and officially walked off the job early this week.

The work action has crippled operations at Port Metro Vancouver's container terminals, slowing the transport of commodities such as lumber, pulp products and specialized grains, along with household goods and construction materials.

TSI Terminals Systems Inc, which operates two of the four container terminals at Port Metro Vancouver, declared force majeure on Friday, due to the backlog of import containers at its terminals.   Continued...