Small businesses forgotten in Port Metro dispute

VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberal government is failing to stand up for small businesses that were forced to pay escalating fees to store containers during the dispute at Port Metro Vancouver.

“Port Metro Vancouver engaged in bullying tactics throughout this dispute, threatening to revoke the licenses of independent truckers, and refusing to bargain in good faith. At the same time, terminal operators are forcing small businesses to pay container storage rates that escalated throughout the dispute, doubling from $227.50 to $455 per day to process containers,” said labour critic Harry Bains.

“This is a serious burden for small businesses. What is this government going to do to relieve them of these unfair fees?”

Bains added that Port Metro Vancouver refused to take action in the fall when non-unionized and unionized owner operators approached it about the need to work out solutions to problems around undercutting on rates and port delays.

“We are pleased to see an end to this dispute. We always knew a resolution was possible, but we also knew it could have been reached much sooner with fair bargaining by Port Metro Vancouver, and without the provincial government’s disruptive threats of back-to-work legislation. Two weeks ago, the Port and the Liberal government were refusing to negotiate on the proposed 14-point plan, ensuring that this painful dispute continued,” said Bains.

“While the Liberal government was prolonging a dispute that should have been solved by Port Metro Vancouver last fall, small businesses were paying increasing storage fees they could do nothing about. Premier Christy Clark needs to take action today to press for a return of these storage fees to the small businesses that were forced to pay them, and ensure that these business owners don’t pay the price for the failure to take the negotiations seriously sooner.”