By Leo Quigley, AJOT

About 800 independent truckers who move containers at the Port of Vancouver have signed with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). Bargaining with the 55 or so truck owners began October 25.

Lamber Sidhu, national representative for the union, told AJOT that CAW is expecting to have a contract in place quickly and will base the contract on the recommendations of mediator Vince Ready, with “some improvements in items such as the health and welfare plan.” Sidhu said most truckers are members of the Vancouver Container Truckers Association (VCTA) that disrupted domestic container movements this summer, and those who are not will be encouraged to join the association.

“Most people are very supportive,” he said. “We haven’t found any difficulty signing them.” Ready’s recommendations are already in place at the port and trucking companies must agree to them to get a permit to move containers.

However, there may soon be changes in what the port requires in the form of an agreement since the task force appointed to look into the causes of this summer’s strike filed its report October 26.

The Vancouver Port Authority (VPA) has not revealed any of the report’s recommendations. It has said that the document has been forwarded to Ottawa and to the provincial government for review.

Meanwhile, the VPA has advised truckers that the existing truck licensing program will remain in place until further notice. The program is based on trucking firms accepting the recommendations of mediator Ready.

In a prepared statement the VPA said, “While the Task Force has been asked to make recommendations about the licensing system, any changes will take time to implement. To ensure the continued effectiveness of the licensing system the VPA is monitoring every truck to make sure the vehicle has a valid permit.”