Over the past two and a half years, our government has treated the creation of fair working conditions and labour stability in the Metro Vancouver container trucking industry as a high priority. Container truckers are essential to moving goods for trade to and from our ports, which is critical to keeping our provincial and national economies strong. A bitter labour dispute involving port truckers in February 2014 served as the jumping-off point for the Province, the federal government, the port, unions and other industry partners to recognize the urgent need to work together to improve a very fractured sector.
Immediately after signing the Joint Action Plan to end the strike in March 2014, the Province worked with the Government of Canada, the Port of Vancouver, port terminals and labour to meet its obligations under the plan. The Province looked to mediators Vince Ready and Corinn Bell for clarity on the problems, and acted on their report’s recommendations to find solutions. In keeping with the report’s recommendations, our government enacted legislation that included minimum rates for truckers. This legislation is clear. There’s a rate regulation in place attached to the legislation that specifies the exact wage requirements, including retroactivity.
Our number-one priority has always been to make sure that truckers are paid the wages they have rightfully earned. The Province acted on another recommendation by establishing a container trucking commissioner to oversee the industry. Through this office, audits of trucking companies are regularly conducted to ensure the law is being followed. Over $1 million has been paid to container truckers since the commissioner’s office was established in February 2015, based on audits and investigations of about 18% of Truck Licensing System licensees. An additional 33 audits are currently underway.
The commissioner’s office has opened up better communication within the industry. The commissioner meets monthly with an Industry Advisory Committee composed of key players in the sector, and then detailed meeting summaries are posted to the commissioner’s website. A whistleblower line in English and Punjabi is in place so truckers can anonymously report undercutting and non-payment of the regulated rates.
To help reduce problems with heavy truck traffic at port gates, the Province and the port contributed $1.71 million in summer 2014 to equip all container trucks with GPS technology to monitor performance, calculate wait time and associated wait-time fees owed to container truckers. Night gate operations at the port began that summer as well, providing 16 hours of access per day to port terminals.
The present container trucking commissioner and deputy commissioner are working hard to ensure the fair operation of this industry and a better work environment for container truckers. Their combined familiarity of the sector and its operations is helping them carry out the important work of their office.
Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest and most important port with 180 million dollars of goods moving through it every single day. That’s why we’ve been working hard to ensure long term stability in this industry so important to our economy. We have a world-class transportation network that supports the reliable and efficient movement of goods and we recognize in order to keep it first-rate, we need to value and support the British Columbians whose hard work is essential to its success.