VICTORIA—Truck drivers have reached an agreement with the federal and provincial governments and Port Metro Vancouver that will ensure a return to work at the port—and the end of debate regarding back-to-work legislation.
“We have been clear from the very beginning that negotiation is the only way to achieve labour peace,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Forced-work legislation would have been defied by our members. I have a moral and legal obligation to act in the best interest of our members and I was not about to ask our members to be put in harm's way by returning to work. Defiance was the only option on the table for our union.
"Respect for workers’ rights and good faith negotiation is what is in the best interest of workers and the broader public. We were not going to be moved on this,” he said.
Intense bargaining took place throughout the day. Unifor says, the involvement of the premier’s office was important to breaking the impasse.
“From the beginning, we knew that negotiation was the only want to end this dispute,” stressed Dias. “And we have said throughout this, that we were willing and eager to negotiate around the clock. We understood the significance of the work stoppage. We are frustrated that Federal Transportation Minister Raitt did not share this understanding. This work stoppage was protracted because of the unwillingness of Minister Raitt to participate in the necessary dialogue.”
Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association (VCTA) collective agreement expired in June 2012. During that time, the union has been raising concerns that long line-ups and wait times at the Port of Vancouver are costing truck drivers money. Unifor-VCTA is calling for increased rates of pay and wants the rates standardized and enforced across the sector to put an end to under-cutting.
“This is an agreement that working truckers can be satisfied with,” said Paul Johal, Unifor-VCTA president. “We were also in this position in 2005, so enforcement will be critical to keeping the ports open.”
Vince Ready will still be conducting an independent review of the sector.
Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 300,000 members, Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector.