Vancouver port truckers strike endangering meat exports
Container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver on strike for better wages and shorter wait times
B.C.'s meat producers say the container truckers strike at Port Metro Vancouver is killing export sales and they are worried they'll lose international clients for good if the strike does not end soon.
Roughly half of Canadian beef and pork products end up in Asian markets, but right now most of the export trade has been halted by the strike.
Ron Davidson, the director of international trade at the Canadian Meat Council, says roughly $30 million of meat products move through the port every week.
"Meat processing is the largest food processing sector in Canada," says Davidson
But unless the dispute ends soon, he worries buyers in China, Japan and South Korea will simply find other suppliers.
"They have to keep their shelves or their factories stocked in their countries, and if we can't supply, they have no choice but to go elsewhere."
Back-to-work legislation tabled
The B.C. government tabled back-to-work legislation aimed at about 250 unionized truckers on Monday, but Unifor spokesman Gavin McGarrigle says the union members will remain defiant even when that bill passes through the legislature.
"They don't have any money and if they'll get fines and can't pay the fines, they're prepared to risk jail time," said McGarrigle.
More than 1,000 non-unionized truck drivers first began the job action in late February. They were joined by the union on March 10. Both groups are demanding better wages and shorter wait times at the port.
Last week, the port threatened not to renew the licences of drivers who did not return to work immediately — and Port Metro Vancouver says container truck volumes have since rebounded to 40 per cent of normal operations.
With files from Luke Brocki