In the last 15 years drayage has become a vital part of the supply chain serving both importers and exporters such as Walmart and Canadian Tire, Toyota and General Motors. The forest products trade has become reliant on drayage as well, as they are now commonly containerized for export. The drayed portion of container traffic is 25 -35% of some 3 million containers in total passing through the MetroVancouver gateway [the rest transferring directly on-dock between rail and ship without travelling over local roads].

The drayage system is characterized by the inability to provide service which is uninterrupted, professional, and respected and that provides the structural integrity to the transport system that is needed to attract investment and a sense of security among its customers. Those qualities are vitally important. For instance, with the BC waterfront longshore workforce, landed an 8- year collective agreement. Labour stability created confidence and drove investment.

In contrast, the drayage sector has had three significant labour disputes in the last 15 years. They were lengthy: there has never been a longshore dispute that lasted anywhere near that of the drayage sector: the last one in spring 2014 lasted several weeks.2 Although the stoppage affected only a portion of the container movement, its ill effects continue to this day.

The drayage sector is vital to the cargo fluidity of Canada’s dominant container trade served by Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) as the conduit through the Asia-Pacific Gateway. Given this importance, it’s not surprising that 2014’s disruption in trucking service caused significant concern amongst shippers, businesses, and government. To address the issues, the B.C. Government appointed a B.C. Container Trucking Commissioner in early February 2015 to support better working conditions for container truckers and to ensure efficient and reliable operations at Port Metro Vancouver.

Postscript

After Mr. Smith resigned at the BC Container Trucking Commissioner he subsequently spoke to a breakfast meeting of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation – North America Pacific Chapter. Download a copy of Mr. Smith’s remarks and a summary of the question and answer session.

BC Container Trucking Commissioner

BC-Container-Trucking-Commissioner-CILTNAPacific8Oct2015ProceedingsSmith1.pdf

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