Montreal, August 15 2005 No 157

 

OPINION

 

Jayant Bhandari is an entrepreneur. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

 
 

TRUCKERS ON STRIKE IN VANCOUVER

 

by Jayant Bhandari

 

          I sit in my office next to the intersection of Clark and Hastings in Vancouver. There is something nostalgic about what is happening outside. There is a big group of Indian men sitting and chatting, sharing jokes at the corner, and playing cards. They communicate in Punjabi. Most of them struggle with their English they do not seem to have been in Canada too long. They all belong to the Vancouver Container Truckers Association, on strike since 27 June 2005(1).

 

          I do not understand the reason for their strike, and I do not care to. What I do understand is that if I were dissatisfied with an employer, I would leave. In fact, this is what I and most of these strikers did when choosing a place to live in: we moved to Canada.

          I have never felt comfortable about asking anyone twice about something that does not belong to me. If I do not get what I want as a part of a negotiated deal, I have the right to move on, nothing more. If I do not have a better choice, I consider it my ethical duty not to blackmail. Most importantly, however rightful my stance, I would not forcefully involve anyone in my fight.
 

A socialist attribute

          My next door neighbor fumes and frets every morning as all our guest-parking is occupied by the strikers with impunity. When all legitimate parking is occupied they park their cars behind ours. They use the limited-time street-parking all day the parking warden ignores it. Early in the morning they set up a barbeque to improvise cooking within our private area, unconcerned about their and other's safety.

          The restaurant frets about the loss of business, as no customers now come for lack of parking space. Moreover, they are expected to supply water and cater to other minor needs of the strikers all unpaid. The area around is now littered with beer cans, and food bags.
 

"When I refused to let one striker enter my premises for use of our bathroom, he said, 'You have to support us, we are all over in the media.' While he is fighting for more money for himself, he has no problems taking away my money by destroying my business, and by using my facilities."


          When I refused to let one striker enter my premises for use of our bathroom, he said, "You have to support us, we are all over in the media." While he is fighting for more money for himself, he has no problems taking away my money by destroying my business, and by using my facilities. This is the dilemma of such special interests: Somehow their money and interests are more important than mine. Somehow they have no inhibitions about being pests.

          They show a finger (not being sure that it should be the middle one) to the drivers who do not join them. Other trucks pass and honk, showing signs of solidarity. The people around me squirm.

          A trucker in India usually gets a maximum of a couple of hundred dollars a month. He drives in dangerous conditions, and does it for about 12 to 24 hours at a stretch. I would expect those moving to Canada to live here with a bit more gratitude and appreciation of life as against a normal Canadian teenager who might not have seen that kind of strife. Alas, the past is so easily forgotten.

          I would at least expect them not to import those elements of their lifestyle, the culture of extracting involuntary contribution from those not interested, which makes India such a poor country.

 

1. While this article was due to be published, the strike was mostly suspended for 90 days effective early August.

 

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