USC clubs in hot water
Bank governor opens vault of history
Big wheels not turning
Mount Trudeau falling in a landslide
Gore and Bush charge to elections
Big wheels not turning
By Mike Murphy
Yesterday afternoon, Ontario's Economic Development and Trade Minister, Al Palladini, announced what he hoped would be a solution to widespread job dissatisfaction among Ontario's truckers.
"The minister had conversations with representatives from the National Truckers Association and they do not believe the plan offers the necessary protection," said Susan Manning, spokesperson for the Ministry, of the minister's talks with a group representing truckers.
Manning said the plan involves the trucking industry regulating itself to pass a fuel surcharge tax along to the small truck owners and operators whom they contract out.
"The plan would offer owner/operators relief from high fuel costs," she said, explaining the government would not have to intervene in the industry but the shippers and carriers who hire truckers would ensure truckers get more money to buy gas.
The cost of a litre of diesel fuel has risen from about 40 cents per litre to around 70 cents in the past year, said Keith Swayne, vice-president of the National Truckers Association.
"Right now [truckers] are taking money out of their wages to supplement their truck," Swayne said. "We're trying to get a surcharge to get even with where we were last year,"
Asked how many truckers across the province have joined the protest, Swayne said, "Not enough. People are scared."
Last night, over 500 truckers staged a protest by crawling at a snail's pace along westbound lanes of Highway 401 east of Toronto, said Sgt. Ryan Carothers, of the Ontario Provincial Police. Traffic in collector lanes was slowed to about 10 kilometres per hour, he added.
Before yesterday's announcement, Ontario Trucking Association communications manager Rebecka Torn, said carriers are not to blame for the truckers' discontent.
Torn, who said the OTA represents 1,700 trucking firms in Ontario, stated shipping companies are not passing along necessary fuel charges for carriers to pass along to truckers.
At press time, board members of the trucker's group, the NTA, were in a meeting to determine how they would react to Palladini's announcement but could not yet comment, Swayne said.