Saturday, April 22, 2006

Emerson's First Act

Here is how not to win friends and influence people. Feds change licence scheme at VanPort; Owner-ops not impressed

The federal government may not be extending a container truck licence regime which mandated set rates and fuel surcharges paid to owner-operators, but it has tabled legislation that institutes a separate licensing rule for carriers working the ports in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver.

Earlier this week David Emerson, federal Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway, said the Tory government would not approve an new order in council that would extend the interim licensing scheme which ended a bitter six-week strike last summer by 1,200 independent container haulers protesting rate-cutting, low wages, and the high cost of fuel.

Instead, new "Regulations Amending the Port Authorities Operations" published in the Canada Gazette Part 1 yesterday require the Vancouver Port Authority to administer licences to approved trucking companies entering the ports.

Note well this law was passed as an Order In Council, that is without debate in the house.

And as usual it is a typical Alberta regulation, it suggests but does not mandate, in fact it degerulates the market. The Harpocrite government will monitor the situation which of course means sitting on their hands till there is another strike.

In fact, the new government made it clear it wouldn’t be regulating rates – nor asking the VPA to do so -- but would closely monitor that contracts and bargaining agreements be honored.

This week, the Vancouver Container Truck Association and the Canadian Auto workers, which represent many of the owner-ops, threatened to launch another wildcat strike if the previous licence system wasn’t continued. There’s a good chance they may still in fact do so.

That’s what the Retail Council of Canada is warning members across the country. The RCC’s Kevin Evans told Canadian Press the changes don't do anything to stop another major labour disruption at the ports. The association estimates Canadian businesses lost an estimated $500 million during last year’s strike.

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