VANCOUVER Feb 26 Unionized container truck
drivers at Canada's largest port will vote on Saturday on
whether to join their non-unionized colleagues in a job action,
after hundreds of truckers walked off the job on Wednesday over
services and pay.
The non-unionized drivers said they will not return to work
at Port Metro Vancouver until their concerns are resolved.
Unifor, which represents about 400 unionized drivers at the
port, said its members are also frustrated over issues like long
line-ups for loading and unloading, and a lack of standardized
"This morning's protest is just the beginning," said Unifor
local president Paul Johal in statement. "Truckers are prepared
to escalate job action if the port and both levels of government
don't take our concerns seriously."
After the vote, the unionized workers are required to give
72-hour notice before walking off the job.
The United Truckers Association of British Columbia (UTA),
a non-profit group representing union and non-union drivers, and
Unifor have both been in talks with the port authority for
months over concerns that long wait times at the facilities were
costing drivers money. Truckers are paid by the load and do not
make money while sitting in line.
They are demanding that the port streamline operations to
improve wait times or pay drivers a fair hourly wage while
waiting. They are also asking for a standardized pay rate for
all container truck drivers working at the city's port.
A spokesman for Port Metro Vancouver confirmed that the
action Wednesday had had an impact on business at the port,
which handled a record 135 million tonnes of cargo in 2013.
"The port is still open for business, but we are seeing
delays due to the protest today," spokesman John Parker-Jervis
Port Metro Vancouver has said it is working on new
infrastructure and practices to improve wait times at its
facilities, and blamed some of the backlog on extreme weather.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Grant McCool)