Jobs Minister Shirley Bond

Port reopens Thursday with trucker deal

Deal to increase rates and reduce wait times ends deadlock at Port Metro Vancouver sites that was disrupting trade

VICTORIA – Truck driver representatives and provincial government officials shook hands Wednesday evening on a deal to get picket lines down at Port Metro Vancouver Thursday morning.

United Truckers Association and Unifor representatives joined Premier Christy Clark and Jobs Minister Shirley Bond at the B.C. legislature to announce the deal, which Clark said addresses pay and wait time issues.

The government will abandon back-to-work legislation to impose a 90-day cooling off period, along with stiff fines for Unifor-organized truckers who had been poised to continue their strike in defiance.

More than 1,000 other non-union independent owner-operators represented by the United Trucking Association who weren’t covered by the legislation had been under threat of port access permit terminations by Port Metro Vancouver.

The federal government committed to increase trip rates by 12 per cent within 30 days, with a temporary rate hike to take effect after a week of normal operations.

“What changed today was a willingness to listen,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias, adding that he had arrived in Victoria to announce a plan to defy the back-to-work law that was being debated.

Federal mediator Vince Ready was to return to B.C. Thursday to work out the details of the settlement.

Port Metro Vancouver has agreed to consult with truckers on the licensing system to control the number of trucks calling at the port and get the multiple employers to comply with rate and employment agreements. A wait time fee of $50 per trip is part of the agreement.

The strike began with non-union drivers Feb. 26 and broadened to unionized drivers March 10.

It has clogged the normal flow of goods via truck and began to result in layoffs in various trade-dependent industries.

 

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