The South Asian Trucking Associations of Ontario have taken the first step to unite to provide a common platform for drivers in the community to air their grievances and seek solutions to the challenges they face.
Members and leaders of the AZ Canadian Truckers Association (AZCTA), Ontario Dump Truck Association (ODTA) and Ontario Aggregate Trucking Association (OATA) met Sunday at a gurudwara in Mississauga to discuss the need for a united voice in the run-up to the June provincial election. .
Sukhraj Sandu, vice president of AZCTA, said the main goal was to stay in the system and address its shortcomings. “The community is divided into groups – long distance, local, dump truck drivers, aggregate haulers. We are all truckers, and when someone has a problem, we can come to one platform and voice our problems together,” he said.
Jasvir Dhalival of ODTA said his association was grateful that AZCTA and OATA had agreed to join forces with his association.
OATA President Jagroop Singh hailed the decision as a good step and a good start. “In the future, we will be together to solve more problems. We are going to have a common platform.
Singh pointed to two pressing issues: rest areas and truck parking. He criticized the lack of infrastructure, pointing out that some rest areas only have parking for 20 trucks and drivers have to scramble to find spaces.
He said truck parking fees cost at least $500 per month, which is similar to the monthly cost to insure a large rig. “There’s a lot of land in Caledon, Ontario, they can give us an outdoor storage permit. God is not going to come down and change the zoning. It’s political. They can do it whenever they want,” Singh said.
AZCTA’s Sandhu said the group aims to highlight issues related to rules and regulations, authorities, compensation issues, public safety and training for new professional drivers.
Community activist Jotvinder Sodhi suggested that South Asian truckers wear a logo on their clothing to reflect the identity of the group, improve visibility and forge a united front.
The need for a common spokesperson to address issues and answer questions from the media, attendance at industry events and continued lobbying of politicians in the run up to the election were also discussed.
Issues raised included lavatory access for drivers, air brake renewal exemptions, insurance, unfair wages and brokers eating away at profits.
The move comes amid strikes and protests by gravel haulers and dump truck drivers demanding higher rates for the loads they haul, among other demands.
Demanding a 40% increase in fares, OATA producers agreed to a 20% hike and drivers returned to work on Monday after two weeks.
Meanwhile, an ODTA member who was stabbed during a protest last week remains in hospital. Most of the dump trucks are still parked in the province as members of the association continue their actions for the respect of their labor rights, fair wages and remuneration, and to highlight safety concerns .