March 21, 2014 12:30 PM, EDT

Cargo Being Diverted as Vancouver Strike Continues

Truck Traffic Improving, Port Official Says
Port Metro Vancouver

Shippers are diverting cargo from Port Metro Vancouver as a labor dispute enters its third week, even as truck operations at Canada’s largest have picked up despite an ongoing truckers’ strike.

“Some cargo is being diverted” as retailers are shifting their incoming freight movements, port spokesman John Parker-Jervis told Transport Topics.

“Having said that, we haven’t seen any ships turned away or anything like that,” he said, adding that truck traffic, which had been as low as 10% to 15% of normal in the past two weeks, rose to about 36% of normal this week.

“We are seeing an increase of containers moving in and out” of the port, Parker-Jervis said. About 2,000 drayage truckers work the port on a normal basis.

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., are seeing additional cargo that’s been shifted from Vancouver, officials from those U.S. ports told TT.

“We are seeing some Vancouver-bound cargo being moved here,” said Tara Mattina, a spokeswoman for the Port of Tacoma, although the port “won’t know quantities until next month.”

PMV ranks fifth in container traffic among North American ports, according to the American Association of Port Authorities. It is supporting back-to-work legislation that the British Columbia government could introduce as soon as March 24.

Nonunionized truckers began protests at the port Feb. 26 over issues of pay and excessive wait times. They were joined by unionized truckers represented by Unifor, Canada’s largest union, who set up pickets at the port March 10.