Labour mediators Corinn Bell and Vince Ready have been tapped by Transportation Minister Todd Stone to take charge of B.C.’s Container Trucking Commissioner’s office.
He named Bell acting commissioner and Ready acting deputy commissioner following the resignation last month of former commissioner Andy Smith.
Unionized truckers had accused Smith of dragging his feet on forcing container trucking companies to pay their drivers higher rates as well as retroactive pay, as required under legislation that was to bring labour peace to the industry after a month-long strike in 2014.
The office is to take complaints from truckers about pay and other matters, audit companies and penalize the offenders.
Bell and Ready helped forge the regulations Smith was supposed to enforce, including the new pay rates drivers were supposed to get.
“Both have the experience to ensure fairness and growth at the port,” Stone said Tuesday.
Six non-compliant companies have been identified so far and audits are in progress on others.
Stone said four of the firms have since paid back wages to truckers, while the other two refused to do so.
Ready and Bell will determine penalties, which could range from fines to suspension or termination of port access.
Union leaders estimate millions of dollars are owed to hundreds of truck drivers.
“There are a good number of truckers who are still owed wages and that’s wrong,” Stone said.
The province continues to seek a long-term permanent commissioner.
Stone said the interim commissioner and deputy commissioner will work part time and be paid out of the existing budget.
NDP labour critic Shane Simpson said the appointment of Bell and Ready is an indication that the office of the Container Trucking Commissioner is in “serious trouble.”
– with files from Tom Fletcher