Striking longshoremen in the Canadian port of Montreal have agreed to return to work from 7am on Monday 24 August, local time, following a two-week strike that has seen millions of dollars’ worth of cargo stranded on the quay or unable to land at the port.
Following the intervention of the federal government and the agreement by both the union, the International Longshoremen’s Union 375 (CUPE), representing 1,125 dockers, and the Maritime Employer’s Association (MEA), the two sides have agreed a seven month truce that will, it is hoped, lead to a new collective bargaining agreement by March 2021.
Pressure tactics such as lockouts or strikes are not allowed during the truce period, as the negotiations are meant to be free from this type of intense stand-off. The temporary settlement was possible after the MEA dropped its requirement for a deal to be reached at the end of the time period and had restored the dockers’ unsocial hours pay that the group had earlier cut.
Meanwhile the union agreed to return to work for the duration of the seven months of negotiations, even though the union had received mandates for further strike action.
Ian Mulcahy, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1657 (Checkers) has reportedly agreed a new collective bargaining agreement in principle. Ratification of the agreement with the 175 Checkers will be sort this week.
Karl Blackburn CEO at the Conseil du Patronat du Quebec and a member of the Montreal Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, also welcomed the news, following what he said was, “The entire economy of Quebec being held hostage”.
Hapag-Lloyd has already announced to its customers that the strike will end, but cautioned,
“It will take some weeks to clear the backlog of vessels and cargo in the terminals which were impacted because of this interruption. Both Railroads will need to re-adjust their networks to reinstate normal operations in Montreal while at the same time clear the backlogs in both Saint John and Halifax.”
The liner operator added that it would not be possible to prioritise one container over another as the terminals will need to maximise their efficiency on the backlog of cargo.
“We request customers to continue to monitor our website for schedule updates or further updates on the status at the impacted vessels and ports (Saint John / Halifax / Montreal),” said the carrier.