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Striking truckers ask Port Metro Vancouver to drop lawsuit

Port Metro Vancouver is suing the United Truckers Association over damage caused by what it calls disruptive protesting and property destruction.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

A representative for striking non-union port truckers is urging Port Metro Vancouver to drop its lawsuit in order to restart negotiations.

Manny Dosange, spokesman for the United Truckers Association, said the lawsuit was a driving factor in the group's decision Saturday to remain on strike.

Port Metro Vancouver is suing the association, which represents at least 1,000 non-union truckers, over damage caused by what it calls disruptive protesting and property destruction.

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In a statement of claim filed late last month, the port alleges the group damaged container trucks, threatened drivers trying to access port lands and threw rocks and debris at vehicles.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Mr. Dosange says there's no proof his members were behind the alleged offences, and any civil action should wait until a potential criminal investigation is complete.

"The lawsuit against us should be dropped," said Mr. Dosange. "There's no charges laid – no one's been convicted of anything."

The lawsuit names the United Truckers Association of British Columbia, John Doe, Jane Doe and other unknown persons as the defendants.

The labour stoppage started last month, with the association calling for better pay, standardized rates to prevent drivers from undercutting one another and the elimination of long delays at the port.

Meanwhile, some 400 or so unionized truckers serving the same port could be headed to the picket lines over similar issues as early as Monday, a Unifor official said.

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The union has said truckers are paid by the load, and workers are only able to deliver about three per day.

They need five loads to make ends meet, the union said.

The drivers had threatened to walk out last week and cripple operations at four container facilities around Metro Vancouver.

Talks with a federally appointed mediator led to a tentative agreement, but members turned it down in a vote Saturday, with 98 per cent rejecting the proposal.

Port Metro Vancouver is Canada's largest port and trades $172-billion in goods annually.

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