The B.C. government is preparing back-to-work legislation to bring an end to the two-week-old strike by unionized container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver.
The legislation will include a 90-day cooling off period and could be introduced as early as Monday.
The back-to-work order will only affect the 250 unionized truckers who belong to Unifor-VCTA. The order does not cover non-unionized truckers, who have also withdrawn their services.
In a news release, the provincial government said it is joining with the federal government to take coordinated action to protect the Canadian economy by keeping goods and services moving across the country.
Port issues warning
Port Metro Vancouver says it will also begin to implement its planned reform of the truck licensing system at the port as part of the 14 point action plan for reform presented seven days ago to the truckers by both the federal and provincial governments.
The plan was based on recommendations from veteran mediator Vince Ready who was appointed by the federal government to look at the issues surrounding the strike.
But it was rejected earlier this week when the truckers demanded negotiations first.
The Port is also renewing a threat it made on Monday. As part of licence reform, it says it will not be renewing old licences as they expire and expects everyone with a current licence or permit to report to work tomorrow.
"I cannot imagine why we would issue future licences or permits under the new licensing system to truck drivers who are not at work tomorrow," said Port Metro Vancouver president Robin Silvester
Union says port making bad situation worse
Unifor-VCTAA, the union representing container truck drivers, warned that trying to force truckers back to work will only make a bad situation worse.
"The minister can’t expect to stick his head in the sand and make this go away,” said Paul Johal, president of Unifor-VCTA. “A negotiated settlement is the only sustainable solution.”
The union said that truckers are united, having voted 100 per cent in favour of strike action.
“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.”
Port Metro Vancouver is the country's busiest port and the strike by truckers has been impacting $100 million worth of goods every day.
The strike started two weeks ago when non-union container truckers withdrew their services. It picked up steam the following week when the non-union truckers were joined by unionized truckers.
The truck drivers are demanding standardized rates of pay across the trucking sector to prevent undercutting and a reduction in wait times at the port.