B.C.'s unionized truckers hope to avoid strike

Unifor demands government enforce minimum pay

VANCOUVER – Unionized Vancouver-area truckers hope a meeting set for today with government officials will resolve an ongoing dispute and averting the possibility of another strike that would cripple the Lower Mainland’s ports.

Representatives of more than 1,000 non-unionized drivers and about 400 unionized truckers are due to meet with federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt and B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

Gavin McGarrigle of Unifor has accused government of failing to deliver on a promise to establish and enforce a minimum rate of pay for all drivers.

He says he hopes government will hear truckers’ demands today and take action.

The federal government has said it has been working with B.C. to ensure truckers are paid the rates agreed on.

Vancouver’s port authority has said it created a complaint phone line allowing truckers to report companies paying them too little.

But McGarrigle says the complaints are toothless, because companies will not pay workers minimum rates unless the government forces them through legislation.

More than 1,000 non-unionized truckers went on strike in February and 250 of their union counterparts joined them in March, crippling operations at Vancouver-area ports for weeks.

But a deal was reached at the end of March, and drivers went back to work.

The dispute focused on pay, unpaid time spent at the port waiting for cargo, and allegations that some companies underpaid drivers.

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