British Columbia government formally introduces back-to-work bill

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia introduced a back-to-work bill on Monday, March 24, in response to the truck driver strike at Port Metro Vancouver. The bill, formally known as Bill 25, applies only to the union drivers represented by Unifor.
 
As previously announced, a 90-day cooling-off period will be implemented as soon as the bill is passed. According to the language of the bill, within that 90-day period certain conditions must be met. Violators could be faced with charges. The conditions are as follows:

No employer can “lock out” or declare a lock-out of any of its employees.
The union and all union drivers must terminate the strike.
All drivers must return to work with their employers.
Any attempt to strike, before or after Bill 25, becomes invalid.
No union representative shall prevent any union worker from complying with the bill.
No employer can prevent a driver from complying with the bill, including denying employment due to striking before the bill.
 
Additionally, the legislation says the government can choose to extend the cooling-off period up to 60 days. An extension will have to be done within the original 90-day cooling-off period. Any agreements that have been made between the employers and the union remain in effect until either a new, conclusive agreement is arranged or the cooling-off period ends.
 
Penalties for not complying with the proposed legislation can be quite costly. Any employer, including the union, can be fined $10,000 or more for each day they violate the terms. An officer or representative of an employer or the union can be fined $2,500 or more for each day they fail to comply with the bill. Individual employees and union drivers can be fined up to $400 for each day on which an offence occurs.
 
Bill 25 also requires all parties to continue to bargain collectively “in good faith” within 72 hours of the bill being enforced.
 
In the bill, “Employer” specifically refers to and names seven companies within the port. Those companies are Aheer Transportation Ltd., Forward Transport Ltd., Green Light Courier Ltd., Landway Transport, Port Transport Inc., Prudential Transportation Ltd. and Sunlover Holding Co. Ltd.
 
In late February, more than 1,000 non-union independent drivers went on strike at the port, demanding higher wages and shorter wait times. On March 10, they were joined by union drivers under Unifor. Estimated costs of the strikes have been as high as $885 million each week.
 
Related articles:
British Columbia preparing back-to-work legislation
Port of Vancouver struggles under weight of truckers’ work stoppage

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