British Columbia preparing back-to-work legislation

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, March 20, 2014

Worried about the economic damage from the port strike in Vancouver, the British Columbia government is preparing a piece of legislation that includes a 90-day cooling off period. Meanwhile, in coordination with the government, Port Metro Vancouver plans to not renew expiring permits of protesting truckers.

The back-to-work legislation will affect only the 250 Unifor union strikers. Legislation can be introduced as soon as Monday, March 24. Of the more than 1,000 non-union drivers protesting, approximately 150 have permits expiring soon. However, the port has threatened to cancel any driver who does not return to work.

In a statement released March 19, Unifor said that the proposed legislation will only make matters worse.

“Stripping workers of their right to negotiate fair working conditions is not leadership,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president. “We're actively seeking a resolution that works for everyone, but that can't be done if the minister doesn’t take workers' rights seriously.”

In late February, non-union drivers protested the port in favor of higher wages and shorter wait times. A week later, union drivers joined the work stoppage. The port has filed a lawsuit against the protesters and devised a 14-point plan to resolve the issue. Within the 14-point plan, the port would end all legal action against drivers, except for those involved in criminal activities.

The 14-point plan was rejected by the drivers, who still have not returned to work. According to Port Metro Vancouver’s website, economic damage can be as high as $885 million each week.

Related article:
Port of Vancouver struggles under weight of truckers’ work stoppage

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