Business demands end to BC port strike

July 26, 2005

26 July 2005

Business demands end to BC port strike

The following article is extracted from the 25 July 2005 edition of the “National Post”.

B.C.'s business community demanded the federal government stop idly watching on Monday while the province suffocates under a violent trucker strike at the Port of Vancouver.

The Vancouver Board of Trade estimates the strike is costing the province $75 million a day in transportation costs alone as a consortium of business groups held a news conference to say things are getting serious.

Business leaders said they are close to having to lay off people and those able to afford alternative shipping routes may not come back to Vancouver, which is at risk of developing a reputation for having an unreliable port.

Ian May of the Western Canadian Shippers Coalition said he is amazed at Ottawa's inaction. …

"Of particular concern to the business community is the violence that has characterized this dispute. This is not tolerable in a civil society. There is a pervasive atmosphere of intimidation which has been reinforced by violent incidents that have dissuaded those who wish to work from doing so.''

Over the weekend, eight transport trucks were shot up in a company's yard in the suburb of Richmond. …

The B.C. business community is demanding the federal government use a section of the Transportation Act to force the 1,000 container truckers back to work at Canada's main entry point for fast-growing Asian imports.

The government said last week that the section doesn't apply and that it doesn't have jurisdiction to act.

May said the business groups have consulted lawyers who say the government can act, adding that the problem is a lack of will by politicians. …

The business groups say the strike is not a labour dispute, but a business to business quarrel. …

May, leading 10 representatives of major business associations, wants all the truckers sent back to work by court order.

Section 47 of the Transportation Act is designed for extraordinary disputes that aren't covered under labour legislation, he said.

The thousands of small businesses that work with slim margins can't hang on much longer while the government sits by, said Laura Jones, director of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

"Our members are paying storage fees of $100 a day and more for containers stuck at the port. That's adding up and causing serious concern. …

Canadian Economy & Politics
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