Mar 11

Truckers Strike at Port Vancouver

Up to 400 unionized truck drivers have joined non-unionized truckers at protests outside Port Metro Vancouver container terminals after their union voted Saturday to reject a mediated back-to-work plan.

Picket lines have been set up at nine separate locations around Metro Vancouver, including the main Port of Vancouver and Deltaport as well as at several trucking companies that carry containers to and from the port.

Port truckers strikeStriking container truckers keep warm at Deltaport. Up to 400 unionized container truck drivers walked off the job today and set up picket lines (CBC)

Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. area director​ of the Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association, said this strike could have been avoided.

“Quite frankly, the economic conditions for container truck drivers are simply intolerable,” he said.

“This is a really dire situation. Our union has been warning the federal and provincial governments for years now that the situation was going to come to a head and that a shutdown was inevitable.”

McGarrigle, said 98 per cent of the more than 300 unionized members voted to reject the tentative return-to-work agreement drawn up by mediator Vince Ready on Thursday.

“This will have an immediate impact on the ports, because there won’t be a lot of container truck traffic moving — this is almost 50 per cent of the traffic.”

Hard time surviving

The union said the average rate of pay for truckers moving containers to or from Port Metro Vancouver is $15.59 an hour, whereas the average rate of pay in the B.C. trucking industry is $23 an hour.

The union said the average rate of pay for truckers moving containers to or from Port Metro Vancouver is $15.59 an hour, whereas the average rate of pay in the B.C. trucking industry is $23 an hour.

Paul JohalUnifor union president Paul Johal says container truck drivers, who haven’t had a wage increase in eight years, are having a hard time surviving (CBC)

“The immediate economics of the situation for our members is just intolerable,” he said after the vote. “That’s why they gave us the result they did.”

Union president Paul Johal said his members are demanding increased pay rates that would be standardized and enforced across the trucking sector to put an end to undercutting.

“We’re having a hard time surviving,” said Johal. “The cost of living has gone through the roof and there’s been no rate increase for the last eight years. We’re at a time where we can no longer pull our trucks”

Port officials said security has been increased at all four container terminals.

“Facing the prospect of continued disruption of port operations by disgruntled container truckers, Port Metro Vancouver is taking immediate steps to enhance the safety of the port for working truckers,” said a statement released by the port on Sunday.

Deltaport strikersStriking container truckers keep warm at Deltaport. Up to 400 unionized container truck drivers walked off the job today and set up picket lines (CBC/Belle Puri)

 

According to Port Metro Vancouver as many as 2,000 trucks move about $885 million worth of cargo every week in and out of the four container ship terminals.

Vincent Uy, who owns a food distribution centre, said consumers might not notice anything immediately, but if the picket lines stay up, costs of some items may rise.

“I don’t like to say devastating, but it will hurt us,” he said. “[If] we cannot fill the orders, there are no sales. If there are no sales, there’s no money to be made. It affects the bottom line.”

 

Union joins non-unionized members

The Unifor-VCTA members already voted in favour of a strike on March 1 and had threatened to walk out at noon Thursday, but they agreed to discuss their outstanding issues after Ready was appointed by federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

The port said it was already feeling the effects of work stoppages begun by some non-unionized truckers — effects that will only worsen now that unionized truckers have joined the job action.

Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers Association protestAfter more than 18 months of failed negotiations, Unifor-VCTA members voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike on March 1. (CBC)

 

Port Metro Vancouver is suing the United Truckers Association, which represents at least 1,000 non-union truckers, over damage caused by what it calls disruptive protesting and property destruction.

 

In a statement of claim filed late last month, the port alleged the group damaged container trucks, threatened drivers trying to access port lands and threw rocks and debris at vehicles. The allegations have not been proven in court.

 

But Manny Dosange, spokesman for the United Truckers Association, said the lawsuit was a driving factor in the group’s decision Saturday to remain on strike.

 

Dosange said there’s no proof his members were behind the alleged offences, and any civil action should wait until a potential criminal investigation is complete.

Mar 05

Protest Disrupts Portland Container Terminal 6

PORTLAND, OR (MARCH 4, 2014) – On Tuesday, March 4, Central American port workers from the labor union Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) from Puerto Cortés in Honduras established a picket line in front of ICTSI’s Oregon’s operation at Terminal 6 in Portland. SGTM workers held picket signs that read, “S.G.T.M. LOCKED OUT ICTSI” and stated that they are facing murder, military repression, death threats, and anti-union attacks. ILWU workers honored the picket line in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.

ICTSI, the Philippines-based global terminal operator that began its first venture in the United States in 2010 when it leased Terminal 6 from the Port of Portland, is the parent company for ICTSI Oregon and Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana (OPC). On February 1, 2013, ICTSI was awarded a concession agreement in Puerto Cortés for 29 years. ICTSI then established OPC, which imposed a sham labor agreement that was approved by the Honduran Government and ICTSI but never voted on or approved by a majority of port workers. ICTSI/OPC began hiring workers under the sham labor agreement in December 2013 and, over the course of the next couple months, the company fired large numbers of union supporters. This mass firing of union supporters sparked protest on February 26, 2014. The Honduran military responded to the protest by invading the port and arresting approximately 129 workers, who were charged with “terrorism” and “damaging the national economy”. One union leader has had to flee the country after his family members were attacked, killing one and injuring others.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Coast Longshore Division represents the interests of approximately 25,000 men and women working on the docks in 30 ports on the West Coast of the United States. The ILWU was formed in 1934, and the Coast Longshore Division negotiates a coast-wide collective bargaining agreement with the approximately 75 waterfront employers that comprise the Pacific Maritime Association.

– ILWU Coast Longshore Division News Release

Mar 05

Port Metro Vancouver Union to Truckers Strike Thursday

2014-2-5

Port Metro Vancouver Union to Truckers Strike Thursday

Unifor, the union that represents container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver, plans to strike at noon Thursday in spite of an alleged agreement reached Monday between Port Metro Vancouver, the non-union B.C. Trucking Association and the shipping industry.

“There is no way this will have an impact on our strike plans for Thursday,” said Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. area director for Unifor. “This is a backroom deal between Port Metro Vancouver and the B.C. Trucking Association. We weren’t involved in that at all. If you want a deal, you have to have all parties around the table and clearly they didn’t do that.”

“We think that the withdrawal of labor by container truckers will effectively shut down the container trucking side of the port,” he added.

Approximately 300 union members of Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association voted unanimously Saturday in favor of going on strike. McGarrigle said the union drivers have been working at the port under the provisions of a previous contract that expired in June, 2012.

The PMV-BCTA agreement the union is protesting was based on information posted on the PMV website saying that the port had agreed to an eight-point proposal meant to solve the labor dispute. Proposal recommendations reportedly include extending operating hours, changing how fees are charged and conducting audits of trucking companies.

On Friday, PMV got a court injunction that stopped protesting non-union drivers from blocking access to the port. The non-union truckers had been protesting long wait times and low rates. The injunction applies only to members of the United Truckers Association and has nothing to do with legal job action by his union, McGarrigle said.

The union leader said he hopes a mediator will be brought in to resolve the issue between Unifor and port employers. The main issues, he said, are rates paid to truckers along with undercutting by some companies, costs being passed onto container truckers and long waiting times.

McGarrigle said his members will picket but didn’t say where. “We’re going to sit down with our leadership to determine where we’ll do this to make sure we’re peacefully protesting lawfully,” he said.
Source: Cargo Business News