Some Truck Cargo Moving at Port of Vancouver

| 8/5/2005

A strike by container truck drivers at the Port of Vancouver is now on hold.

The owner-operators began moving cargo out of the port on Wednesday, Aug. 3, after a substantial number of Canadian trucking companies signed on to a temporary deal that raises hauling rates by 40 to 50 percent.

This morning, port spokesman Duncan Wilson told “Land Line Now” that containers were beginning to move as trucks returned to operation.

“We’re reporting heavy traffic this morning at our container terminals so it’s looking like things are starting to get going,” Wilson said.

However, it could take weeks before the cargo backlog is cleared.

Wilson said the freight should be moved out of two of the port’s terminals “fairly quickly.” But a third terminal – where renovations are under way and operations are snarled – will likely have stacked docks for a few weeks

There has been good response from Canadian trucking companies, Wilson said, in terms of applications coming in from firms seeking to participate in the 90-day licensing agreement that provides for higher rates for truckers.

“We had about 40 companies with their applications in by the end of business yesterday – that probably represents just over half of the trucking fleet,” Wilson said Thursday morning. “This morning apparently there were over 60 e-mails in to our application desk here.

“We have also extended the deadline, the grace period, until 4 p.m. tomorrow (Aug. 5) in order to provide companies a little bit more time. Some of the smaller companies in particular were saying they needed a little bit more time or some assistance with the application process.”

The 90-day licensing agreement with the new rates — plus a fuel surcharge that kicks in at a certain price – was recommended by a mediator.

About 1,000 non-union container truck drivers went on strike June 27 demanding higher rates and a fuel surcharge. The strike shut down about 40 percent of the port’s operation and cost the economy about $500,000 million, according to the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

– By Reed Black, staff writer