Victoria: After 28 days of work disruption at the Port Metro Vancouver and a day of hectic parleys at Victoria, the governments of Canada and British Columbia and Port Metro Vancouver reached agreement with members of the United Truckers Association and Unifor. Truckers have agreed to resume work with immediate effect.
A joint action plan has been adopted to address truckers concerns. Federal mediator Vince Ready has been retained to meet with all parties including UTA and Unifor leaders, immediately upon the resumption of full operations to review, finalize, and act upon the plan within 90 days.
The Government of British Columbia is not proceeding with pending back-to-work legislation which was strongly opposed by NDP both at the floor of the House and outside.
NDP’s Surrey Newton MLA, Harry Bains, had given a two hour long argument in the House while opposing the proposed back-to-work legislation earlier in the week.
Asian Journal spoke with him after this agreement was signed he said he was glad that the collective effort of UTA and Unifor paid off and Truckers got their basic demands approved. He said, “We were always with Truckers and wanted the Port and Governments to negotiate with the truckers instead of using high hand tactics.
Now truckers are back to work, willingly, it’s good. I want to applaud the patience and discipline of UTA members and negotiation skills of Unifor team who made this day possible. Now businesses can start working again, and other industries and individuals who were affected by this strike can move on.
What pains me is the fact that we were askng this government from the very first day to come to negotiation table, Premier Clark had earlier said that this is a Federal issue and they can’t do much. But now the BC government joined the Port in negotiation and also signed on the agreement.”
Harry Bains went on to add, “Had the government both Provincial and Federal paid more attention to the grievances of truckers this strike would not have happened in first place. Till Mar 25 Govt. was not willing to negotiate, in fact they were threatening the workers with back-to-work legislation. Port also threatened to suspend the port passes of Truckers who do not show up for work. The behavior of both government and the Port was very disrespecting towards the truckers.
I thank my colleagues and leader Adrain Dix for supporting me in my efforts to find a solution for Truckers’ grievances. The govt. was forced to come to negotiation table and finally the workers were able to get what is rightfully theirs. But the struggle is far from over, the small businesses who have their containers stuck at the Port for so many days are being fined for storage, some of them will have to pay as high as $4000 K. This is outrageous; these businesses were just caught in the middle of the fight between Truckers and the Port.”
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt issued following statement on the resumption of work at Port Metro Vancouver:
“Our Government is pleased that truckers have agreed to get back to work at the Port Metro Vancouver.
“Our economic prosperity, competitiveness and ability for our products to reach new markets depends on a well-functioning port. “We will continue to work with the British Columbia Government and Port Metro Vancouver to ensure truckers get back to work and keep our economy on track.”
UTA held a meeting of all its members on Mar 27 and Meeka Sanghera, Director of UTA along with another Director, Harmen Shergill addressed a house full of Truckers ( amid a lot of applause and cheers) and explained in detail the joint action plan and also how the deal was signed. In his speech Meeka also mentioned how some companies supported the strike wholeheartedly while some companies did not. He advised Truckers to come to UTA if they face any problems when they go back to work on Friday.
Harmen read out the Joint action plan to the attendees and also thanked the Premier, the politicians, media and foremost Gurudawaras for supporting the Truckers.
The provincial government came back to the negotiation table after Unifor president stepped in and communicated to the government that any legislation that forces disgruntled truckers to go back to work is not the solution and the Port and Government had to proactively work to approve some of the basic demands of Truckers.
The sudden agreement step came after B.C. government was blamed for being ignorant of the needs of a section of its population and callous for introducing a back-to-work legislation without even trying to help Truckers. Earlier this month government brought Vince Ready as advisor and not mediator. Then sent a 14 point proposal to Truckers which was rejected by union and non –union truckers.
Read Joint action plan on www.asianjournal.ca
Excerpts from Meeka’s speech:
It’s been a long struggle, we have been fighting for our rights for many years now. Yesterday, we have achieved a landmark agreement. 4 issues that we raised out of 14 to get us back to work have been accepted by the Governments and Port.
First and foremost was the issue of waiting time. Now if you wait at the port for more than 90 minutes you will get 50 dollars per hour. Driver wages have also been raised all across the board, now even a new driver will start with minimum $25.13/hr. We will get fuel surcharge of 14% with immediate effect.
I thank Premier Christy Clark for stepping in and taking charge to solve the dispute and finalizing the agreement. I also want to thank Ministers Amrik Virk, Peter Fassbender for taking our concerns to the government and ensuring that we were being heard. Jasbir Sandhu and Jinny Sims took our case to Ottawa and got the attention of Federal government towards the plight of Tuckers here.
Really want to thank Harry Bains who stood in the house and spoke for two hours in our favour. We got support from everyone in the community, people cut across the political lines and came forward to help us.Gurmant Grewal, Nina Grewal listened to our demands and Nina Grewal promised to help us.We also appreciate the help of Jagmohan Singh,Prem Singh Binning, Satnam Singh Johal.But it was you all, your support and discipline that got us this landmark agreement. Unifor stood by us like a rock; it wouldn’t have been possible without Jerry Dias and other members of his team. Scott road Gurdawara and Dashmesh Sahib Gurdawara provided all the members at the picket lines with food; we are greatly humbled by their kind gesture.
Labour Minister, Hon. Shirley Bond; Transportation Minister, Hon. Todd Stone; Unifor President Jerry Dias; Hon. Premier Christy Clark; Meeka Sanghera; Advanced Education Minister, Hon. Amrik Virk and Education Minister, Hon. Peter Fassbender, Paul Johal; Manny Dosange.