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Montreal dockers’ to start “unlimited” strike

Longshoremen in the Port of Montreal are about to escalate the long-running dispute with the Maritime Employers Association (MEA).

The two sides will continue to negotiate over the weekend to try and avert an indefinite strike, but with both sides claiming they offered a truce, which was rejected by their opposite numbers, it seems the MEA and the dockers remain far from a resolution.

Chief negotiator for the Longshoremen’s Union Local 375 (CUPE) Michel Murray told Container News, that the union had given 72-hours notice for a “general strike” of all docker labour at the port, with he exception of the liquid bulk handling terminal, the Oceanex service (Bickerdike Terminal) and the grain terminal (Viterra).

“Another strike notice has been sent for an unlimited general strike beginning on Monday [10 August] at 07:00, we offered a truce, they refused,” said Murray.

Dockers at the Port of Montreal have been working without a collective bargaining agreement since the last contract ended in December 2018. Attempts by the MEA to prevent strike action through the courts have so far been met with a refusal by the Canada Industrial Labour Relations Board to consider the dockers as essential workers, which would have precluded the longshoremen from taking strike action by law.

This will be the latest in a series of strikes, which began on 27 July, other action was mostly limited to 72-hour stoppages. Earlier industrial action had seen vessels diverted away from Montreal.

A statement from the MEA, put out on social media said, "MEA has received notice of an indefinite general strike sent this morning by the executive committee of the longshoremen's union. MEA and its members are disappointed that, even after 65 negotiating sessions since September 2018, we are still at an impasse.

"MEA submitted a counter-proposal for a truce, with obligations of results, which was rejected by the union’s executive committee.

"Our preferred option remains negotiation in order to quickly reach an agreement and we are assessing all options available to us."

Nick Savvides
Managing Editor


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