Embattled trucking commissioner quits

Resignation of Andy Smith comes as Metro Vancouver container truck drivers demand payment

Andy Smith is president and CEO of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association. He resigned Sept. 15 from his post as B.C. Container Trucking Commissioner.

B.C.’s first Container Trucking Commissioner has resigned amid criticism he failed to compel trucking firms to pay higher rates and retroactive pay required as part of a new licensing system that was supposed to stabilize the turbulent industry.

Andy Smith resigned Tuesday, seven months after taking the position.

The commissioner was supposed to make companies comply with terms of an enforced settlement on rates that was imposed after truck drivers crippled container ports with a month-long strike in March of 2014 over low rates.

But Smith’s appointment was controversial from the start, with union reps arguing his other role as president of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association put him in a conflict of interest, because BCMEA members run area container terminals.

Gavin McGarrigle, B.C. area director for Unifor, which represents nearly 600 unionized truck drivers, said numerous “rogue” trucking companies outright refused to pay the higher rates set out in provincial legislation.

He said they defied that requirement, as well as the payment of back pay retroactive to April 2014, while Smith dragged his feet on punishing them with the powers granted him by the province.

“The fox was guarding the hen house,” McGarrigle said of Smith, who could not be reached for comment.

Unifor responded by going to court this summer to seek a judicial review of one of his decisions and and ask for an order that he enforce the container trucking regulations.

On Aug. 10, Transportation Minister Todd Stone wrote to Smith directing him to enforce the regulations, “including fair remuneration for truckers” and retro pay, and reminding him of his duty to routinely post details of penalties he levies against violators. Stone also reminded him of an Aug. 31 deadline to publish his first company audits.

The commissioner’s resignation comes as contract bargaining between the union and various trucking companies heats up, and a growing number of drivers are once again in a strike position.

“It’s seven months of wasted opportunity,” McGarrigle said, noting many drivers are now owed several thousand dollars.

“The drivers are still waiting to get the cheques in their hands. They feel that promises have been made and broken. So we see this as an opportunity to hit the reset button and get a new commissioner who actually wants to work with everyone.”

Higher enforced rates were to end the rampant undercutting that led to the 2014 container trucker strike. Higher pay was also to reflect the expected higher costs for truckers granted port access under the reformed licence system that took effect early this year.

Stone issued a statement Tuesday promising an immediate search to replace Smith as quickly as possible.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Girls, women try their hand at marine rescue in Surrey

Achieve Anything Foundation, RCMSAR Crescent Beach host ‘Operation: This IS You! Saving Lives at Sea’

White Rock cadets nab medals at Vernon competition

Thirteen members of 907 Squadron compete at regional meet

Surrey boy living with congenital heart disease to speak at local Tedx event

Mason Vander Ploeg will be speaking on saving the oceans

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Winds up to 70 km/hr expected across Metro Vancouver

Winds are expected to subside overnight

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Fraser Health warns some schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

High-risk sex offender cuts off ankle bracelet, on the loose in Vancouver: police

Vancouver police said Kirstjon Olson, 38, is a provincial sex offender with 27 court-ordered conditions

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read