British Columbia

Port Metro Vancouver truckers' strike causes wine shortage

The owner of several wine stores across B.C.'s Lower Mainland says the ongoing container truckers' strike at Port Metro Vancouver could soon leave his shelves dry.

Robert Simpson says thousands of dollars of wine destined for his six stores is stuck at the port

Truckers' strike keeps cork on wine

8 years ago
Duration 2:24
Imported bottles are stuck in containers at Port Metro Vancouver

The owner of several wine stores across B.C.'s Lower Mainland says the ongoing container truckers' strike at Port Metro Vancouver could soon leave his shelves dry.

Robert Simpson says three containers full of thousands of cases of European wines destined for his six stores are currently stuck at Vancouver's port.

"Spring is a really important time for us. We have a tremendous amount of wine for spring — some rosé, sparkling wine, Prosecco from Italy — and it's stuck at the port,"  he said.

He said some vintages that he has in stock could be sold out by the end of the week. If the strike lasts, he says he will have to ship the product to other ports at a greater cost.

Exports being impacted too

The truckers' strike is affecting more than those importing goods. The Vancouver Board of Trade says it has heard from several companies that rely on exports, too. 

Vancouver-based Kryton International, which sells waterproofing products for concrete, says 80 per cent of its customers are overseas. The company relies on Port Metro Vancouver to ship its products, and says it barely survived the last strike.

"The last strike was 47 days, and it virtually killed our business. The fact that we could survive after all of this is amazing," said Kryton CEO Kari Yuers.

"We've spent years developing business in overseas markets. When they trust you can supply product and deliver on your promises, you can grow your business. This is a broken promise. If I can't supply the products I've promised, people will go somewhere else."

Yuers said Kryton cannot afford to let its products sit at the port while the truckers strike. Instead, the company is paying thousands of dollars to truck its exports to Montreal for shipping.

Prime Minister weighs in on strike

Some non-unionized Port Metro Vancouver container truckers, who are paid by the load, began job action on Feb. 26 in protest of long wait times at port facilities. They are demanding that the port streamline its operations or pay the truckers an hourly wage.

Unionized container truckers began striking on Monday. In addition to streamlined operations, they are demanding increased pay rates that are standardized and enforced across the trucking sector. 

The port says as many as 2,000 trucks move about $885 million worth of cargo through its four container shipping terminals every week. Disruptions from the work stoppages is preventing at least 85 per cent of its normal truck volume from getting into and out of its facilities.

In Vancouver on Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the strike unacceptable.

"It is not acceptable to have relatively small numbers of people blocking what is an important trade for a range of British Columbian and Canadian businesses," he said. 

With files from the CBC's Bal Brach