Vancouver Port Strike Has Wide-Ranging Consequences

Motivation for the stoppage, according to the Vancouver Container Truckers Association, is that rates paid by transport companies are extremely low and have now been exacerbated by increasing fuel costs. Most members of the Association own their own tractors.

The Vancouver Port Authority (VPA) owns three terminals leased to private operators: Centerm, operated by P&O Ports; Vanterm and Deltaport, operated by TSI terminals. Additionally, Fraser River Port Authority owns one terminal, operated by Fraser Surrey Docks Ltd.

Of shipments to and from the ports, 60 - 67% move by rails. The remaining 30 – 40%, affected by the stoppage, moves by truck. Estimates are that there are $30 million in weekly losses for having containers sitting on the docks.

Although talks began and continued for some weeks – even under the aegis of a provincial facilitator – they eventually broke off with the two sides very far apart. The Canadian government said that it had no plans to intervene in the strike, leaving it up to the two sides, for the time being, to work out issues between them.

For its part, the U.S. government has indicated that terminals in Seattle and Tacoma will be permitted to accept containers originally to go to Vancouver, provided the ship carrying them was scheduled to arrive at the Canadian port on or after July 18. As might be expected, U.S. Customs must be provided with complete cargo information. Later containers must meet the usual 24-hour rule, requiring shippers to provide cargo information before it is loaded on vessels sailing to U.S. ports.

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