Vancouver, B.C. — Port Metro Vancouver is readying itself for labour unrest by upping its security measures.
This weekend, members of Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers Association (VCTA) and the United Truckers’ Association (UTA) both voted against a deal designed to bring a temporary peace to the port. As a result, VCTA members will start striking today, joining UTA members, who have been on the picket lines since the end of February.
In response, port officials say they are taking steps to “enhance the safety of the port for working truckers.”
According to a statement issued by the port, “Port Metro Vancouver will be seeking continuation and expansion of our injunction to keep protestors off port property. Additionally, we will continue a program implemented last week of placing security personnel in working trucks to record events and assist drivers wanting to access port terminals. Lastly, we will be enhancing the presence of security at key locations and access points for traffic headed to or from the port.”
One of the biggest grievances held by both the UTA and VCTA is that truckers aren’t given a voice in their own working conditions. They say their interests aren’t being represented by any party, and that the port is working with drivers’ employers and trucking company associations, and not the drivers. The statement by the port does nothing to address those concerns. Instead, it seemingly reinforces them, calling the protesting members “disgruntled container truckers.” It also promises that port officials are “are working diligently with the federal and provincial governments, shippers and trucking companies to address trucker concerns and the continued instability of the container trucking industry,” with no mention of groups representing the drivers.
The statement also emphasized that since the port does not employ the drivers, it has no direct role in the negotiations. While the drivers acknowledge they don’t work for the port directly, they say port rules, regulations and operations control their working lives, and are definitely key factors in the labour dispute.
While the UTA protest has already had a negative economic effect on port operations, the addition of the unionized VCTA to the picket lines is expected to amplify situation.
“The impact of truckers walking off the job is in the order of about $885 million per week,” said Port Metro Vancouver president and CEO Robin Silvester. “Goods are not moving and that is bad news for consumers and businesses.”