Lawsuit Threatens Vancouver Container Truckersí ResolutionThursday, May 08, 2014 > 15:59:03
Thirty-three Lower Mainland drayage companies have filed a lawsuit against Port Metro Vancouver and the federal government over the recent dispute resolution with the port’s container truckers.
The trucking companies claim that the federal government did not have the right to require provincially regulated trucking companies to comply with the 2005 Ready Memorandum of Agreement and its rate schedule and any changes related to it.
“As a result of the Defendants unlawfully requiring that the Plaintiffs to pay the MOA Load Rates, as amended from time to time, the Plaintiffs have suffered and will continue to suffer loss and damages,” the civil claim states.
Late in February, over 1,000 container truckers walked off the job for a month because of long wait times at the port’s terminals, undercutting and rates. Container truckers returned to work after a 15-point action plan was agreed upon. Part of the plan was an increase of 12 percent to rates.
Israel Chafetz, one of the lawyers on the case, told the Vancouver Sun: “The port increased (rates) as a condition of licence, where the trucking companies had no involvement at all.”
While not part of the legal action, Suzanne Wentt, owner of Indian River Transport told Today’s Trucking that carriers were by-passed in negotiations: “Owners have not been engaged. We have not been asked to negotiate, to come to any talks or meetings. They can’t force a rate structure on us. I pay the driver, not the port, but they don’t want to engage with us for whatever reason.”
Chafetz commented: “It’s not an issue of how fair or unfair the rate is; the issue is the authority to set a rate.”
The civil claim states that the trucking companies have complied with the port’s and government’s “unlawful and unconstitutional requirements” in order to carry on with their business and trade, but that they “have suffered loss and damage and continue to suffer loss and damage.”
The legal claim aims to overturn the deal’s per-container fee increases and compensate carriers for damages, but an exact amount is not given in the lawsuit.
The defendants – Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Port Metro Vancouver and the federal government – have 21 days to file a response to the civil claim.
While 14 of the 33 trucking companies part of the lawsuit are members of the BC Trucking Association (BCTA), the BCTA itself is not involved in the lawsuit.