The British Columbia government has introduced back-to-work legislation in an effort to end the ongoing strike by container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver.
Bill 25 will directly affect about 250 unionized truckers who are members of Unifor, and the bill includes a 90-day cooling off period. The legislation provides for fines of $10,000 a day for the union and $400 a day for workers who defy the back-to-work order.
About 1,500 unionized and non-unionized workers have been off the job for about three weeks.
Labour Minister Shirley Bond says legislation is necessary after she said other efforts to end the dispute failed. However the New Democrat Party has said it will oppose the bill.
Gavin McGarrigle with Unifor, the union representing the container truck drivers, says unionized truckers represent only 250 of the more than 1,000 truckers. He says the legislation won’t work because government has no control over independent truckers, who make up the majority of the strikers.
Those truckers, represented by the United Trucker’s Association, have vowed to continue the strike
However, port officials said last week that drivers who don’t return to work risk losing their port operating licences. Port Metro Vancouver president Robin Silvester said truckers had already started returning to work.
The ongoing strike has delayed both imports and exports and could affect Canada’s trade deficit in March.
Exports such as grain, meat, lumber and coal are waiting to reach the port. Imports of consumer goods, including wine and beer, that arrive in containers are sitting in Vancouver waiting to be shipped via truck.
Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates – we wil provide further updates on this situation as they become available.