More than 600 truckers say they're effectively out of a job after Port Metro Vancouver granted access to just 68 companies under a new licensing system finalized Friday.

Port Metro Vancouver promised to create a new system after drivers, complaining of long wait times and low rates, conducted a bitter work stoppage for nearly a month last year.

Under the system announced Friday, 68 companies representing 1,450 trucks have been approved to serve the port. Last year the number of trucks working the port was estimated at more than 2,000.

Tom Johnson Port Metro Vancouver

Trucker Tom Johnson questions some of the companies that made the port's list and wonders how decisions were made. (CBC)

Michelle Mann with Safeway Trucking says both she and her husband, along with many others, are effectively out of work.

"There are about 600 drivers who are out of a job," she said. 

"Even the companies who have been established for years. What are they going to do with their equipment? What are they going to do with their trucks? What do you do if your life is trucking and you get a letter on Friday at 3:30 p.m.saying you're done?"

Port says new system brings stability

However, Port Metro Vancouver vice-president Peter Xotta said in a statement late Friday, it's a necessary step.

"For years, the container trucking sector that serves Port Metro Vancouver has been unstable and drivers have found it increasingly difficult to make a living," he said. "There is widespread agreement there are too many trucking companies and drivers, which has resulted in undercutting and other problems."

Port Metro Vancouver

Port Metro Vancouver says the new licensing system is needed to address the long-lineups and rate cutting caused by too many trucks serving the port. (CBC)

Xotta said there were criteria established for approving companies under the new truck licensing system.

"There was a broad range of criteria including the ability to pay fees to fund the provincial auditing program and the new provincial trucking commissioner, and minimum environmental and safety standards for trucks," he said.

On Sunday, many of those who didn't make the list, were demanding to know why.

"My question is to the federal government and to Port Metro Vancouver. Elaborate on how they pick and choose which truckers can work and which can't work," said Paul Dhaliwal with Sahir Trucking.

Truck driver Tom Johnson agrees.

"Looking at the companies they accepted, it really contradicts what they're saying. Some of the companies have old trucks. Some of the company owners have been bankrupted in the past."

Xotta says the goal is to stabilize the sector and ensure the remaining drivers can earn a good living.

"It is unfortunate, and unavoidable, that some will no longer be licensed to access the port," he said. "But they are still able to provide driving services that do not require port access locally or elsewhere in the province."

On mobile? Click here for the port's letter outlining new licensing system

With files from Farrah Merali