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Port of Vancouver truckers poised to strike over mandate that forces some to buy new trucks

Rolling Truck Age Program is to begin Sept. 15
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Trucks at the Port of Vancouver last week. A recent Port of Vancouver directive forbids operators from driving vehicles more than 12 years old. JASON PAYNE, PNG

The United Truckers Association has voted in favour of strike action against a recent Port of Vancouver directive that forbids operators from driving vehicles more than 12 years old.

Gagan Singh, spokesperson for the association, said that 639 of the 1,000 members voted to strike, with no votes against.

“I was surprised,” said Singh. “I didn’t expect those numbers.”

Singh said the next step is “to consult with our directors and we will talk to the unions about the [job action] date, should we consider it.” Meetings are planned for Tuesday.

The truckers are upset about the Rolling Truck Age Program, which is set to begin on Sept. 15 and will affect about 20 per cent of the 1,800 trucks that haul containers to and from the ports in a bid to reduce emissions.

The union has said 360 drivers will need to buy a new or lightly-used truck, which can cost more than $200,000 each.

“These costly measures will put extreme financial burden on container truckers amid the highest rates of inflation and unaffordability in a generation,” Singh told Postmedia.

The Rolling Truck Age Program has been on the port’s agenda since 2012. In 2015 the port told drivers that the program would go into effect in ­February 2022.

A month before the program was to begin federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra intervened, asking the port to do more consultation with the drivers. Last month, the port announced consultation was complete, some concessions were made and the program would go ahead. The port’s decision is backed by the B.C. Trucking Association.