A $500,000 fine for two BC trucking companies that underpaid their drivers for years has been upheld in court.

After years of court proceedings and investigations by the BC Container Trucking Commissioner, Gulzar Transport and Jet Speed Transport were ordered to pay the maximum fine.

“A $500,000 penalty in these circumstances is not “crushing” or “unfit”,” the court said.

Gulzar and Jet Speed are both owned by the same married couple, Satnam Singh Sidhu and his wife Sunpreet Kaur Sidhu. According to the BC Supreme Court decision released this week, the province was specifically trying to deal with standardized wages because some companies were undercutting, leading to labour shortages and work stoppages at container ports in the Lower Mainland.

No one knows how much they underpaid their drivers. The trucking companies didn't keep proper records so the Commissioner couldn't calculate the figure but one auditor estimated the drivers were underpaid $1,159,379 between 2014 and 2019.

The two companies were ordered to repay the 67 drivers a total of $262,944 instead.

The companies nearly lost their license to operate but they were able to continue because of the demand for trucking during the pandemic. The trucking Commissioner decided it was more important to keep the supply chain going than to revoke their licenses which have now expired.

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