Port container truckers stage work stoppage

Truckers upset over long wait times at Deltaport and other Vancouver ports

Metro Vancouver container truckers say they're ready to walk off the job after tensions over long wait times at Vancouver's ports have once again reached a boiling point.

"We spent time last year trying to get some of these issues resolved, and [Port Metro Vancouver] have thrown a couple of little bones our way just to keep us calm," said Manny Dosange, a member of the United Truckers Association (UTA).

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"But basically we've run out of resources to keep our trucks on the road."

Last October, UTA members staged a rally at Port Metro Vancouver's downtown offices. The truckers will hold a similar event today, Dosange said. The trucks will not operate after that point.
"We gave a heads-up to the port this morning (Monday) that we got fuel for the next couple of days and after that, we're done," he said.

Truckers also rallied at the Highway 91 truck pull out just north of Highway 10 before heading downtown.

In October, the UTA sent a letter to Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) with several demands. It asked that truckers be guaranteed a one-hour turn-around time; that they be paid an hourly rate if they have to wait for over an hour; and that the port stop granting temporary trucking licenses.

In response, PMV said it would put a freeze on any new licenses and committed to track truck waiting times with a global positioning system.

The UTA also claimed its members are often harassed and bullied by longshoremen at Deltaport, Vanterm and Fraser Surrey Docks. Dosange said his group had made headway on the issue with Fraser Surrey Docks, however the problem remains at Deltaport and Vanterm, which are operated by Terminal Systems Inc. (TSI).

Mark Gordienko, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said those allegations are not true.

"When people are stressed to the limit, when gates are at capacity, there's a lot of stress on both sides," Gordienko said. "Some people get carried away. I've told a lot of people over there that if it happens with our member, let us know and we will deal with it. We haven't had any formal complaints."

Seven months ago, TSI installed a hotline for employees or truckers to use if they are harassed while working at the terminals, said Eric Waltz, president of Global Container Terminals Canada, the company that owns TSI. So far, the hotline has not been used.

The truckers are still asking they be compensated if they have to wait longer than an hour to unload or pick up a container. They also want the terminals to operate longer than the current 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift.

Adding a night shift would go a long way to easing some of the tensions experienced both by the longshoremen and the truckers, Gordienko said.

But Waltz said it was unlikely the truckers would use a night shift because currently most warehouses are closed at night.

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