Long-haul truckers raised their shipping rates by an average of between 6.7 per cent and 8.3 per cent on Friday, following approval by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

The rate boosts took effect on the same day that trucking firms began paying union employees higher wages - a 50-cents-per-hour pay boost, a cost of living increase and increased health and welfare benefits, all included in a Teamsters Union master contract.

In seeking the rate increases, truckers said they were faced with higher workmen's compensation and unemployment tax benefits.

Increases approved by the ICC included an average 6.7 per cent for firms belonging to the Southern Motor Carriers rate-setting organization; 7.4 per cent for the Middle Atlantic, Central States and Pacific Inland groups; and 6.8 per cent for Central and Southern and Eastern Central truckers.

Proposals by Rocky Mountain carriers for an 8 per cent boost and by Midwest carriers for a 7 per cent increase were blocked but the ICC said it would permit increases of 7.5 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively, if new proposals were submitted.

The Middle Atlantic rate boost will affect shipments within Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, the District, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and between those jurisdictions and most of New England and eastern Canada.