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American Shipper

Stalemate in Vancouver port truckers’ strike

Stalemate in Vancouver port truckers’ strike

   The strike by container truck drivers in the Canadian port of Vancouver has entered its third week, but some truckers have resumed work to and from the port.

   The Vancouver Port Authority said Wednesday that about 200 trucks have accessed the lower mainland’s container terminals so far this week.

   Despite the resumption of some trucking activity at the port, there appears to be no prospect of a quick resolution of the dispute, which was brought to the fore by about 1,000 truck drivers of the Vancouver Container Truckers Association asking for a wage increase and compensation for higher fuel costs.

   “From what I understand, there isn’t much movement in the negotiations right now,” said Bob Ballantyne, president of the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association, based in Ottawa.

   He described the situation as “a sort of stalemate” despite the appointment of a mediator, Vince Ready, by the federal and provincial governments. The first round of negotiation talks with the mediator and port truckers a week ago failed.

   The strike has virtually paralyzed the Canadian port’s truck container moves, which account for about 30 percent of total port volume. Ballantyne said the dispute is affecting mainly the local Vancouver market, but will also have an indirect spillover impact on rail moves.

   The port of Vancouver estimates that the strike is costing the provincial economy as much as $30 million a day.

   “Our members are certainly concerned.” Ballantyne said.

   The port of Vancouver said it is doing its part to enhance productivity and support the ability of truckers to earn a good wage.

   The Vancouver Port Authority said Wednesday it is committed to the following:

   * Expanded monitoring of waiting times for trucks accessing the port’s terminals, plus the establishment of benchmark dwell times in an effort to further improve turn-around times for trucks.

   * Continuing to pursue enhanced productivity at the port’s terminals.

   * Expediting work underway to expand truck gate hours to 24/7 operations. Trucking remains the only sector of the business that is not operating on a 24-hour basis.

   * Involving truckers in strategic planning that affects them.

   “Truckers have succeeded in getting the attention of both industry and government,” a port spokesman said. “But every day trucks stay away from the port reduces the goodwill required to find a lasting solution to these issues.”

   The port is urging truckers to resume work.

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