Following the announcement on Friday, 7 August, by Montreal’s International Longshoremen’s Union Local 375 (CUPE) of an indefinite strike, it has emerged that a sister union, International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1657 (Checkers) has also given notice of strike action starting today, 10 August at 3pm local time.
As the long-running dispute reaches its critical phase unions have apparently lost patience with the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) and have called for all out, indefinite strike as a result.
Meanwhile, chief negotiator for the International Longshoremen’s Union Local 375 (CUPE), Michel Murray, told Canadian radio news that negotiations between the parties continued into Sunday night, breaking up without agreement at 1am. It was, reportedly, the 70th negotiation session since fall 2018.
Ian Mulcahy, President ILA Local 1657 said, the key issues for his union remained the scheduling of work (working 27 out of 28 days), working multiple shifts within the working week, and the advancement of technology in an effort to eliminate worker’s functions and duties.
“Unlike what has been reported in the media the MEA has not negotiated with the ILA Local 1657 (Checkers) since June 5, 2020,” said Mulcahy.
At that time, the union has twice made counter proposals to the MEA with no positive response from the employer’s association.
“The Union has requested on two separate occasions through the Federally appointed Mediator to return to the negotiating table and to no avail they have categorically refused. The MEA is not negotiating justly with all of the Union’s under their jurisdiction,” added Mulcahy.
The employer negotiators countered that, “The MEA contacted the longshoremen's union on Sunday evening. There were several exchanges which unfortunately did not result in a truce. The MEA still believes that the solution lies in a truce with [the] obligation of result and the communication channel remains open.”
Mulcahy stressed that each container handled at the port has a specific place on a ship depending on the vessel’s loading plan. It is the job of the checkers to instruct the longshoremen, co-ordinating the movement of all containers that come in or out of the Montreal Port’s terminals by all modes of transport.
Mulcahy said, “The Checkers are an integral part of the functioning for the Port of Montreal.”