Port truckers take to picket line to pressure holdout employers

More than 100 drivers remain without a collective agreement even though the majority of their colleagues have settled a long standing labour dispute.

Two companies holding out over retroactive pay after six others agree to new deal with drivers

Container truck drivers represented by Unifor are picketing two companies after six others ratified a new collective agreement over the weekend. (CBC)

Truck drivers who remain without a collective agreement picketed Monday morning in Delta and Richmond hoping to put pressure on two companies — Harbour Link and Port Transport —  who have yet to settle a long-running labour dispute.

Deals were reached with six other container trucking companies on Sunday, meaning close to 75 per cent of all Unifor truckers have now ratified a labour agreement which will run through July 2019.

"Port Transport and Harbour Link just don't want to play ball," said Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. Area Director for Unifor. "They don't want to pay the retroactive pay owing and they don't want to sign the pattern agreement."

Ninety Harbour Link drivers walked off the job at 6 a.m. this morning, while approximately 40 drivers have been picketing the Port Transport location in Richmond for a week.

Harbour Link responded to CBC's request for an interview by issuing a statement that reads in part: "Several other container trucking employers have now reached agreements with the Union and we hope to do the same ... We intend to continue negotiating with the Union to that end."  

"Even though they don't have contracts they've been working and cooperating with their employer for the last 18 months." he said. "Now they've said enough is enough."

In 2014 striking truckers shut down Port Metro Vancouver for almost an entire month over concerns of long wait times, low wages and undercutting by non-unionized companies and drivers.

The strike ended when an agreement was reached between truckers, the province, the federal government and Port Metro Vancouver, just as the B.C. government introduced back-to-work legislation.

Unifor has filed unfair labour complaints against both Harbour Link and Port Transport with the Port Commissioner. 

"It's really unfair to the many companies that have actually paid the retroactive pay for some of the companies to still be holding out saying, 'well, we don't want to play by those rules,'" said McGarrigle.

With files from Bal Brach


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