Millions in port strike fees will hurt consumers: CIFFA
Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association is trying to get terminal operators to waive some of the $20 million in storage fees they say will get trickled down through higher consumer prices. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)
"Our objective is to have this money rolled back, refunded to the importers that paid the bill." — Ruth Snowden, CIFFA
While the two sides in the Port Metro Vancouver trucking dispute appear to have settled their differences — with government welcoming proposed changes this week — hundreds of companies stuck paying storage fees during job action say their costs will likely trickle down to consumers.
The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, which represents 250 logistic firms, says the fees mean businesses owe a combined $20 million in storage fees.
Those storage fees, it said, were levied during 28 days of freight truckers being on strike in February to March when cargo stood at a virtual standstill.
The CIFFA expects the impact “on the economy, jobs, and consumer prices is going to be felt across western Canada and particularly in B.C.”
Ruth Snowden, executive director of CIFFA, said businesses want to come to a compromise with terminal operators so they don’t have to pay full storage costs.
“Realistically I don’t think the terminals will ever give a complete refund,” she said.
One terminal, TSI Terminal Systems Inc., Snowden said, had offered to “cap” storage fees at 10 days maximum if freight was picked up within four days in late March.
“There’s no reason they couldn’t roll back 50% of the storage fees.”
The lengthy truckers’ dispute ended in late March when the provincial government, truckers and the port authority agreed to end disruptions after the adoption of a joint action plan.
On Wednesday, mediator Vince Ready’s recommendations to resolve the dispute were welcomed by both the federal and provincial governments in a joint statement.
That announcement was praised by both Port Metro Vancouver and also by Unifor, which represents unionized striking truckers.
Port Metro called the announcement “another important step forward,” while Unifor director Gavin McGarrigle said in a statement that the announcement “clears the way for wait time payments to start flowing freely to truck drivers.”