March 7, 2014 8:15 AM, EST
Tentative Accord Reached in Vancouver Port Dispute
Ben Nelms/Bloomberg News

Truckers at Port Metro Vancouver reached a tentative agreement March 6 to avert a strike that could have further crippled traffic at Canada’s largest port.

Vince Ready, who was appointed by Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt to mediate the dispute, brokered the agreement with unionized truckers and government officials.

“It’s a good place to start,” said Ian Boyko, a spokesman for Unifor, Canada’s largest union, which includes the Vancouver Container Truckers Association. Union members are scheduled to vote on the agreement March 8, he told Transport Topics.

Nonunionized truckers began work stoppages and protesting at the port Feb. 26 over long wait times, congestion and pay issues. Unifor-VCTA voted several days later to begin a strike that was to have begun March 6.

Some shippers already have begun activating contingency plans to reroute some cargo away from Vancouver, port spokesman John Parker-Jervis told TT.

“We are still seeing trucks moving containers in and out of the terminals — and these volumes are increasing, up from 15% of normal to 20% of normal,” he said.

The British Columbia Trucking Association released an eight-point plan to resolve the dispute, which was posted on PMV’s website.

The plan called for industrywide funding to support extended terminal and truck gate hours, and a commitment for full rate audits of all trucking companies operating at the port.

BCTA President Louise Yako said drivers still are working at the port, and the number of protests totaled “no more than 550” out of the 2,000 trucks licensed to work there.