Vancouver’s port defends decision that put 550 truckers out of work

Move to limit port terminal licences was necessary to prevent undercutting, says Port Metro Vancouver

A trucking strike last March shut down Vancouver-area ports for a month. Many of the issues remain unresolved

Port Metro Vancouver is defending a decision that has left around 550 port truckers looking for work elsewhere. 

On January 23, the port authority released a list of 68 trucking companies it had given licenses to in order to access port terminals. Those companies represented 1,450 trucks, out of the entire fleet of around 2,000.

In a press release, Port Metro Vancouver says limiting the number of trucks was necessary to prevent persistent undercutting.

“For years, the local container trucking sector that serves Port Metro Vancouver has been unstable and drivers have found it increasingly difficult to make a living,” said the port authority in its release.

The move follows a March 2014 truckers’ strike that saw Vancouver-area port terminals paralyzed for a month. Truckers went on strike then to protest long wait times at terminals and low wages.

Ken Rakhra owns Nilam Trucking Ltd. and has done container trucking for 10 years. He did not receive one of the licenses and wants to know how the port picked the successful licensees.

“They didn’t post on their website why some companies got approved, why some companies didn’t get approved,” he said.

Container trucking makes up all of Rakhra’s current business.

“I’m thinking I’m where I was 10 years ago,” he said.

He believes there is enough work for all the truckers, especially during busy times of the year.

The port said it used a broad range of criteria in order to make its decision, including the ability to pay the charges to fund the provincial auditing program, Port Metro Vancouver’s costs, whether the company was able to provide a compliance bond and insurance and meet environmental standards.

Companies that didn’t meet the cut can meet with Port Metro Vancouver officials to go over why they weren’t successful, according to the port.

Truckers represented by Unifor have been unhappy with a wage structure the B.C. government introduced in December, and are currently in talks with the province.