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Unionized truck drivers to join strike at Port Metro Vancouver

Unionized truck drivers are expected to walk the picket line at Port Metro Vancouver Monday after Unifor members voted overwhelmingly to reject a deal hammered out last week.

Monday, they’ll join thousands of non-union drivers who are already off the job.

The drivers say the offer made gives no stability to those who bring containers to the port. They say long line ups and poor wages are unacceptable.

Manny Dosange, spokesman for the United Truckers Association, says a lawsuit filed by Port Metro Vancouver was another driving factor in the group’s decision to remain on strike.

The port 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.

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.

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The allegations have not been proven in court.

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 tension is escalating, with some drivers receiving death threats, according to Dosange.

Container rates are regulated, but non-union drivers allege that hasn’t stopped companies who are members of the B.C. trucking industry from undercutting and taking kickbacks to get preference at the port.

They say they will present proof that some are getting special treatment when it comes to the reservation system.

BC Trucking Association spokesperson Louise Yako said all complaints will be investigated.

Truckers believe the provincial and federal governments are turning their backs to the issues because of their relationships with the port.

They are calling for a full investigation, audits and an overhaul of the container trucking system in Metro Vancouver.

Port Metro Vancouver said nearly $885 million worth of cargo from 50 per cent of all containers is moved by truck out of the port per week.

With files from the Canadian Press

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