Container truckers welcome new opportunity after Commissioner Andy Smith's resignation


VANCOUVER, Sept. 16, 2015 /CNW/ - Container Trucking Commissioner Andy Smith's surprise resignation creates many opportunities in the industry, according to the union representing the largest number of truckers at Port Metro Vancouver. Unifor says it is eager to get to work with the next commissioner after Smith proved unwilling to enforce the provincial government's plan for truck driver rates of pay.

"Drivers from many companies are still owed thousands of dollars. The industry can't function properly without appropriate oversight, so we welcome the opportunity to make progress with the next commissioner," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Chief among the container truckers' concerns are the outstanding payments promised to the drivers at the resolution of the March 2014 strike at port. Despite the drivers upholding their commitment to return to work, most companies have balked at the wage increase and Smith initially refused to implement the new rates and delayed taking action against rogue companies.

On August 4 Unifor filed in provincial court to seek enforcement of the pay rates articulated in the March 2014 Joint Action Plan, a December 14 Order in Council, and a January 2015 statutory declaration from trucking companies.

"We were promised new wage rates on three separate occasions, and it is long overdue for a new commissioner to enforce the rules and take action against companies breaking the law," said Paul Johal, President of Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers' Association (VCTA).

"We've always believed that Andy Smith was the wrong person for this job because he represented shipping interests at the same time—the fox was guarding the hen-house," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor's BC Area Director.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.