Company drivers, indirectly employed operators, and independent operators serving the Port of Vancouver will see rates increase 6.2% on July 1, in the wake of an independent compensation study conducted for the Office of the British Columbia Container Trucking Commissioner.
A review published in February included five proposals to update rates for drivers serving the Lower Mainland’s drayage sector, and the decision was made to address inflationary pressures.
They are not the only changes on the horizon.
Overtime rates were announced in April, and as of May 1 company drivers have been entitled to 1.5 times their applicable hourly rates beyond nine hours in a day and over 45 hours a week.
Now the commissioner’s office is working on overtime rates for independent operators. A final decision will come after industry feedback on the proposal is reviewed.
Overall, the motive behind the introduction of overtime rates is simple.
“They [drivers] were always entitled to overtime,” commissioner Glen MacInnes said, noting that it was addressed by the B.C. Employment Standards branch. “Since I’m doing the audit anyways, I can see people aren’t complying. I can see drivers aren’t getting paid. And I can see licensees are getting very frustrated because they pay overtime, and some others don’t … thus, giving them a competitive advantage.
“When our auditors now find cases of unpaid overtime, the employers can now be ordered to compensate the drivers under the Container Trucking Act, which ensures that every licensed company in the drayage sector now pays overtime.”
Ensuring drivers are getting the money to which they are entitled can be especially important against the backdrop of softening container traffic as the Port of Vancouver comes off its pandemic-related peak.
How truck tags are allocated
The office of the container commissioner has been working labor unions and industry associations to match drivers with available work and review the way truck tags are allocated, MacInnes said.
Truck tags grant permission to haul containers. Fleets that need to renew a licence must submit a business case detailing how many tags they will need, and how many of those will be designated for company and independent operators. Data from customer lists to previous performance and truck availability are considered.
While licensees choose how to allocate the available work, the office’s goal is “to ensure we do not have too many drivers chasing too few containers,” MacInnes said.
Currently, 1,600 tags are distributed to 76 licensees, and nearly half are designated for independent operators, he added.
Dividing the work
But that doesn’t prevent any potential imbalance in work divided between independent and company drivers.
“We’re not here to interfere [with] how you organize your workplace. If you want to hire independent operators, that’s your choice. If you want to hire company drivers, that’s your choice. What we’re trying to do is to say, ‘There’s no competitive advantage going one way or the other’. We tried to balance that out.”
According to the latest monthly update, published in April, there are currently 25 vacant tags, 20 of which are available for independent operators. Such updates published by the commissioner’s offie let the carriers know about available tags, allowing them to apply for the licence within 90 days.
Today, 769 independent operator tags are now actively used.