Local truckers have started a protest for what they say is a fair wage from their employer Canadian Natural Resources Limited. On Wednesday, around 100 protestors came out to the Lloydminster office to start a conversation with the Calgary based company.
A former employee of Shamrock Valley Andrew Bykowsky sparked the protest by posting a video on his Facebook page asking people employed by the company to step up and demand them to increase rates for their workers.
Bykowsky says all the trucks working for CNRL are making $65 to $75 an hour, which is nowhere near enough to make a successful business. He adds that $110 to $120 is what is needed otherwise truckers are set up to fail.
“Three or four years when we lost our rates, we lost 30 per cent of what we make and ever since then the cost of everything has gone up. Our cost of living has gone up by 15 per cent. There’s this new carbon tax that also didn’t help and our rates haven’t stopped. The cost of fuel is significantly higher than what it is.”
On Monday, Bykowsky says he got a call from a CNRL superintendent at the Lloydminster office and was fired after making the video that led to the protest in front of their office.
The protest brought out a lot of people, but Bykowsky says not all the companies were able to shut down their operations for a day and support the protest.
“CNRL strong-armed a few of the local companies and basically threatened the guys with their jobs that is they were to come and join our movement that they’d be losing their jobs. Unfortunately, some guys were too scared to shut down, but we’re still here to make our stand.”
A protestor and trucker who was wearing a mask at the rally says he wanted to remain anonymous in order to protect his job and family. He says the work that goes into fixing his trucks is more than what he can afford with his wage.
“I’ve been crawling around in my driveway at night fixing my trucks so that I can go to work the next day and it’s tough. I work until three o’clock in the morning sometimes and I don’t get home, I don’t see my kid, I don’t see my wife.”
CNRL said in an email that “We have a competitive process for truck servicing firms to bid for work locally in support of our operations. We have ongoing meetings with our truck servicing firms and we encourage independent contractors to work with their employers to bring forward their concerns to us. We are committed to working together with our truck servicing firms to work through these concerns.”
The CNRL office in Lloydminster shut their doors and blocked the front driveway with pickup trucks. Bykowsky says their next step is to gather more people and take their fight to CNRL’s headquarters in Calgary.