VANCOUVER, B.C.– Unifor is asking a provincial judge to direct the Container Trucking Commissioner to enforce the wages owed to container truck drivers as part of the March 2014 Joint Action Plan. The Plan was signed by Premier Christy Clark, representatives for federal Minister of Transportation Lisa Raitt, and Jerry Dias from Unifor.
“We have a deal signed by the Premier, that should be worth something,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s BC Area Director. “Trucking companies are breaking the rules, and the Commissioner is letting them. We’re going to fight for justice, because container truck drivers work hard and deserve the wages promised to them in good faith over a year ago.”
In documents filed with the court this week, Unifor is alleging that Container Trucking Commissioner Andy Smith is in a clear conflict of interest because he is employed as both the Commissioner and the lead lobbyist of the BC Maritime Employers’ Association, an organization representing many commercial interests connected to Port Metro Vancouver. Unifor is also asking the courts to order Smith to enforce the payment of back-wages for all drivers as agreed to by the two levels of government and the union.
According to Unifor, the provincial government appointed Smith several months ago at a rate of $800 a day while working as the Commissioner to enforce the Container Trucking Act. An Order in Council from December 2014 created regulations to mandate that rates established in the Joint Action Plan be retroactively paid to all drivers for all moves beginning on April 3, 2014. In January 2015, trucking companies also signed a statutory declaration swearing that they owed no back wages in order to apply for new licences issued under the Container Trucking Act—something that is demonstrably false in many cases, the union said. Despite this, the Commissioner still refuses to enforce retro-pay, Unifor said.
“The fox is guarding the henhouse,” said Paul Johal, President of Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association (VCTA). “Port Metro Vancouver must operate with integrity. If truckers can’t be guaranteed the wages they’re owed under the law, it threatens the operation of the Port.”