Ontario truckers have rejected a provincial government plan that could possibly bring an end to trucker protests.
According to the Toronto Sun, Economic Development Minister Al Palladini detailed a proposal Tuesday afternoon that would pay independent truckers a 7 to 22 cents per mile fuel surcharge to compensate them for diesel price hikes. But the proposal contained no guarantees about when or how the surcharges would be implemented, so the truckers turned the deal down.
To make matters worse, leaders of the National Truckers' Association, a loosely organized group of owner-operators based east of Toronto, resigned after the negotiations broke down. Frustrated by a lack of progress since the association's inception in February, NTA President Bill Wellman and Vice President Keith Swayne stepped down, voicing their disappointment that their actions failed to gain broad support.
"We have 20,000 independent truckers in this province and only 30 brought their rigs out to support us this week," Swayne told Today’s Trucking. "I guess 20,000 or so truckers don't need help."
"If this is the best I can do after eight months, I shouldn't be president," Wellman said.
A convoy of 25 trucks blocked the entrance to Mackie Auto Transport in Oshawa, cutting off the supply of essential parts to nearby General Motors.
Meanwhile, trucker blockades are continuing in Melbourne, Australia, stopping the delivery of materials to hundreds of Victorian building sites.
According to Associated Press reports, Transport Workers Union state secretary Bill Noonan said the blockade already had affected work on two of the state's major projects, with work on many more sites expected to slow down if the situation continued.
Noonan told the AP that the action would continue until quarry operators negotiated for "safe rates."
"We don't want to go back to work on unsafe cartage rates, " he said. "It's as simple as that."
The TWU calls the dispute a "safe rates" campaign because it says tired drivers struggling to make ends meet are jeopardizing the safety of quarry workers, road users and themselves.
In South America, Chilean truckers continued their fuel strike for the second day yesterday, obstructing roads throughout the 2,700-mile-long country amid concern of possible food and fuel shortages within days, according to press reports.
Leaders of the National Confederation of Truck Owners, who transport 92 percent of the freight hauled in Chile, said more than 7,500 vehicles were being used to protest against a tax on diesel fuel. The government put the figure at 2,000 vehicles.
Witnesses said truckers on the outskirts of Chile’s capitol, Santiago, were letting traffic flow only in one lane in either direction on the Pan-American highway, the major road that runs the length of the nation.
Television images showed some drivers burning tires on roads, with private cars and buses travelling slowly past barriers of parked trucks. Radio reported that the scenes were repeated around major cities across the nation.
Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza reiterated the government's stance of refusing to enter into talks while the truckers were blocking roads, reports said.
Although British truckers are no longer blockading refineries, they still want to see something done about fuel prices. One of the leaders of the British fuel blockades, which brought the country to a standstill last month, wants to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown, according to press reports.
Farmer Brynle Williams hopes to press the case for government concessions on fuel taxes before a 60-day deadline set by protesters passes on Nov. 13.
The Freight Transport Association will be presenting ministers with demands for fuel cuts at a meeting of the Road Haulage Association today. The demands were arranged jointly with the National Farmers Union.
This meeting has been scheduled for some time. It was given increased significance by the fuel protests, since it is the last gathering before the deadline passes.