The province and port authority should negotiate, not intimidate
Truck drivers rally at Port Metro Vancouver off of McGill Street entrance in Vancouver, B.C. on Thursday March 20, 2014. Port Metro Vancouver truck drivers say they will disobey any legislation to force them back to work. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on internships was Laila with 69%.
This week’s topic:
Are provincial and port authorities justified in taking action to force truckers back to work?
As I entered the King George SkyTrain station Friday morning, it wasn’t the usual crowd of commuters that I encountered. Instead of office workers and students, seemingly endless lines of port truckers and their supporters filled the ticket area in a show of solidarity that made me smile.
As I chatted with more than a few supporters while waiting for my turn to buy a ticket, one thing was clear — it’s not just other unions supporting the truckers. A wide spectrum of non-unionized workers and small businesses genuinely understand and appreciate how hard it is to make a living.
Ironically, while my Duel partner not only agrees the truckers deserve to make a living wage — and has even presented a comprehensive list of unresolved issues port truckers face — he still feels the bully tactics of the province and the port authority are reasonable to deal with the ongoing strike.
Going on strike is always the last resort for any union trying to work out an agreement with their employer. Unions exhaust every other method of resolution first, because being on strike means workers are losing their pay. In this case, the unionized port truckers have been without a collective agreement with their employers since June 2012.
Non-unionized truckers have even more at stake in this strike. They don’t have the protection of the union and they are responsible for all of their own expenses and vehicles. Many of them have been losing money on a daily basis. These truckers have said they have nothing left to lose by striking because they aren’t making any money.
It’s important for the businesses complaining about increased storage costs, or lack of stock, to realize that it’s a joint effort, not a singular effort, that allows their businesses to profit. Short-term pain is sometimes essential to ensure a long-term gain for everyone.
It’s just not right for port truckers —one of the most vital components of the supply chain — to suffer at the benefit of everyone else. As tensions rise with livelihoods on the line, I strongly urge all truckers to stay strong and peaceful on the picket lines. The province’s back-to-work legislation and the port’s threat to cancel non-unionized truckers’ permits is unconscionable and doesn’t show good faith. Both should be withdrawn immediately.
Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.
Who wins this week's duel about forcing port truckers back to work?