A truckers’ union that went on strike at the Vancouver port in spring 2014 is asking the provincial court for a judicial review challenging the Container Trucking Commissioner — alleging the commissioner hasn’t followed through with a joint agreement signed to end the strike.
Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. area director for Unifor, said on Tuesday the agreement’s provisions had included rate increases for truck drivers for ending the job action. Specifically, owner operators were to receive 12% more, plus starting rates were to be set to $25.13 for new drivers.
But most companies haven’t actually been paying those higher rates, McGarrigle said, and it should have been commissioner Andy Smith’s job to enforce those payments.
The union is also accusing Smith of conflict of interest, as he is also the head of the B.C. Maritime Employers’ Association. McGarrigle says he suspects increased drivers’ rates — paid for by trucking companies — would mean costs would get passed on to that industry association’s members.
The union wrote to the commissioner in July, suggesting as much.
But in Smith’s response, dated July 20, the commissioner seemed reluctant to order that the payments be made.
“On the issue of retroactivity I have been asked by a major driver organization to hold off requiring its immediate payment … the commission considers a negotiated settlement of this issue to be preferable to an imposed one,” he said.
Smith said he has received numerous complaints and his auditors are investigating. He also denied being in conflict of interest, and said his office is not bound by the previous agreement that ended the strike.
“The legislation in fact gives me the discretion to change any and all rate and conditions parameters,” he said.
By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver