(Adds comment from union, details on talks)
By Julie Gordon
VANCOUVER, March 14 Representatives of unionized
and nonunionized container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver
were set to meet with government and port officials on Friday to
discuss a plan designed to end a 14-day strike at Canada's
The plan, revealed late on Thursday by the Canadian and
British Columbia governments and the port authority, sets out to
address the concerns of the striking drivers on fair pay,
reduced wait times at container facilities and the creation of
an industry oversight committee.
It also called for the striking drivers to return to work
immediately, ending the more than two-week job action that has
crippled operations and delayed the transport of hundreds of
millions of dollars worth of goods.
"We have a lot of questions about this document to be
answered," said Gavin McGarrigle of Unifor, the union that
represents about 400 container truck drivers. "We also note
there are some glaring holes in the document."
McGarrigle said the union leadership expected to meet with
the government and port representatives later on Friday to
review the 14-point plan. The United Trucking Association, which
speaks for the independent drivers, will also be in the talks.
Hundreds of nonunionized drivers parked their rigs on Feb.
26 in protest over services and pay at the city's port
facilities. Unionized workers voted to join the strike just days
later and officially walked off the job early this week.
The work action has crippled operations at Port Metro
Vancouver's container terminals, slowing the transport of
commodities such as lumber, pulp products and specialized
grains, along with household goods and construction materials.
TSI Terminals Systems Inc, which operates two of the four
container terminals at Port Metro Vancouver, declared force
majeure on Friday, due to the backlog of import containers at
It said the action applied only to import cargo in
containers destined for local delivery, and that it would
continue service for containers moving by rail.
Rising Asian demand for Canadian products has led to a boom
at Port Metro Vancouver, which handled a record 135 million
tonnes of cargo in 2013, including about 25 million tonnes of
containerized material. It is Canada's largest and busiest port.
But the drivers say they are frustrated over increased wait
times at the container terminals, which cut into their profits.
They are paid by the load and do not make money while sitting in
line waiting to load or unload cargo.
They are also demanding regulated and enforced pay rates, to
help prevent trucking companies from undercutting one another.
Under the 14-point action plan, the Canadian government
committed to "adjust the regulated trip rates within one month
by 10 percent" and to expedite a review of current wage and fuel
surcharge rates, with changes to be put in place by mid-2015.
On wait times, Port Metro Vancouver promised to extend
operating hours, along with other operational changes, to help
increase efficiency at the city's terminal facilities.
The plan also calls for the development of a steering
committee to monitor the progress of the reforms, with its
membership to include representatives of unionized and
nonunionized drivers, the port and both levels of government.
Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said the plan should
pave the way for workers to get back to work immediately.
"I have asked Port Metro Vancouver to implement the agreed
upon action plan. It is time to get the port working once again
and we expect the trucking industry to do their part and
immediately return to work," she said in a statement late on
The action plan, to be implemented by mid-June, comes after
months of failed talks between the various parties. The strike
is the third in 15 years at the port, including a six-week
action in 2005 over similar issues.
(Additional reporting by Solarina Ho in Toronto; editing by
Catherine Evans; and Peter Galloway)