Vancouver Port Truckers Could Strike

January 6, 2009, 9:47 AM EST

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Truckers who haul freight at the Port of Vancouver may be facing a strike over the coming weeks, if new collective agreements can not be reached with employers.

The 750 truckers, who are predominantly owner-operators, are employed by 22 different companies and are represented by CAW Local 2006. The contract expired on December 31, 2008.

The union is calling for a stricter enforcement of established pay rates as well as a moratorium on new port passes which allow drivers to enter the port. Of the 40 companies that have been audited recently, 23 were found not to be paying the proper rates.

Currently, the Vancouver Port Authority is only issuing port passes to company-owned vehicles, with the express purpose of eliminating owner-operators, said CAW Local 2006 President Paul Johal. The surge in port passes is making it more difficult for the truckers to find decent work, he added.

The CAW is currently working to set up more bargaining dates with the group of employers. "No-one wants to see a strike by owner-operators at the port, but our members are not prepared to stand by and allow their livelihoods to be destroyed without a fight," said Hemi Mitic, assistant to the CAW National President.

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