March 10, 2014 10:00 AM, EDT
Vancouver Port Truckers Reject Agreement, Begin Strike
Ben Nelms/Bloomberg News

Unionized truckers at Port Metro Vancouver rejected a tentative agreement that had been brokered late last week to resolve simmering disputes, and began a strike at the port March 10.

A last-minute tentative agreement to avert a strike after a week of protests by nonunionized workers was “too little, too late,” said Paul Johal, president of Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers’ Association, which represents several hundred drayage truckers at the port.

Pickets went up at 7 a.m. local time, said Ian Boyko, a spokesman for Unifor, which is Canada’s largest labor union.

A larger number of nonunionized truckers, who are part of the United Truckers Association, stopped working and began protesting at the port Feb. 26, citing slow congestion, slow turn times and pay issues.

Port Metro Vancouver, Canada’s largest port, said it was “taking immediate steps to enhance the safety of the port for working truckers.”

It said it would try to continue expand its injunction to keep protestors off port property and “continue a program implemented last week of placing security personnel in working trucks to record events and assist drivers wanting to access port terminals.”

“At the same time, we are working diligently with the federal and provincial governments, shippers and trucking companies to address trucker concerns and the continued instability of the container trucking industry,” the port’s statement said.

The actions follow an agreement in principle reached March 6 by federal mediator Vince Ready, who was appointed by Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt to attempt to resolve the dispute without further jeopardizing the port’s operations.

Some of the port’s shipper customers have already begun implementing plans to divert cargo to other ports, a PMV spokesman told Transport Topics.