(Updates throughout, adds comments from province, union, adds
By Julie Gordon
VANCOUVER, March 26 Negotiators on Wednesday
reached a deal to end the month-long container truck strike that
has crippled operations at Canada's largest port and slowed the
transport of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods.
The new deal, brokered by the province, means that the more
than 1,000 striking drivers will return to work at Port Metro
Vancouver on Thursday morning.
"This agreement means the port is open again for business
starting tomorrow morning," said British Columbia premier
Christy Clark at a press conference in Victoria, the provincial
The deal came after provincial politicians spent a third day
debating back-to-work legislation, which would have forced the
drivers to return to their rigs. That legislation has now been
withdrawn by the province.
"We have been clear from the very beginning that negotiation
is the only way to achieve labor peace," said Jerry Dias,
national president for Unifor, which represents the union
drivers. "We were not going to have a plan imposed on us."
The new deal, based on a previous plan put forward by
government and the port, was signed by Premier Clark, along with
representatives of both the union and non-union drivers.
"This is an agreement that working truckers can be satisfied
with," said Paul Johal, president of the Unifor local, in a
More than 1,000 non-union drivers walked off the job on Feb.
26 in protest over pay and services at Port Metro Vancouver.
Their unionized colleagues voted to join the strike days later
and have been on the picket line since Mar. 10.
The core issue in the month-long job action was long wait
times at the city's port facilities, which drivers say cut into
their profits. They are paid by the haul and do not make money
while waiting in line to load or unload cargo.
The drivers were also demanding higher rates and better
regulation to stop rampant undercutting in the industry.
The strike paralyzed Port Metro Vancouver's four container
terminals, slowing the export of commodities like lumber, pulp
products and specialty grains, and the import of consumer goods
and construction materials.
The provincial and federal governments, along with the port,
set out a 14-point action plan to end the strike in mid-March,
but the proposal was rejected by the drivers. The revised plan
was reached by all parties on Wednesday after a day of intense
A provincially appointed mediator will now meet with the
drivers and other participants to work through outstanding
issues and start implementing reforms aimed at improving pay,
wait times and creating more oversight in the industry.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)