Dockers unions in the Canadian port of Montreal have said they are prepared to strike again next week after negotiations with the employers’ representatives, the Maritime Employers Association (MEA), appear to have stalled.
The current strike is due to end at 7am on Friday 7 August, and the 72 hour notice necessary to allow for another stoppage will be immediately served with the strike expected to start the following Monday, Chief negotiator for the Longshoremen’s Union Local (375 CUPE) Michel Murray told Container News.
He went on to say the employers are concentrating on an appeal to the judgment handed out by the Canada Industrial Labour Relations Board (CILRBD) on 8 June, which ruled against the MEA, who had claimed that the Montreal dockers were ‘essential workers’ and therefore should be prevented from striking.
Murray said he believes the MEA want to take the case to the higher court, the Federal Court of Appeal, and have again angered dock workers by cutting their night-time pay.
According to Murray the nightshift contracts allow for dockers to be paid 150% of their base salary, while the midnight shift receives 200% of its base salary. MEA proposals to cut this pay to 105% and 110% respectively have been met with a resolute refusal from dockers.
“We will only work the day shifts,” said Murray, “only the shifts that pay the right amount that is agreed in the contract. We will strike for every shift.” He added resolutely.
While the negotiations remain ongoing and are expected to continue through this week until Sunday, the union did not hold out much hope for a resolution, following this “escalation from the employers”.
Currently the dockers are working to a contract that originally expired in December 2018, but as no agreement for a new deal was reached with the dockers the last contract is automatically extended. Murray believes that the MEA, wanted to take the opportunity when the conservative government was in power to prevent the unions from striking, reducing their influence.
Since the liberal government of Justin Trudeau was elected the ministry has refused to intervene in labour relations issues and that has forced the MEA to the courts, where the ruling went against them.
“The MEA don’t understand that the game has changed, the last two contracts were negotiated with a conservative government and the minister would say to the unions ‘I’ll give you a week to come to an agreement, then I’ll introduce a law against the longshoremen’, but the new government refuse to intervene,” explained Murray.
Every 60 days the unions are required by law to hold a ballot to make sure the union has grass roots support for industrial action. The latest ballot was held last week with 1,031 of the 1,051 dockers voting and of those that voted 99% backed industrial action.
“They [the MEA] don’t understand, the game has changed, and they will lose,” said Murray.
The MEA has been contacted for comment, which will be included should a response be received.
Meanwhile, following the diversion of two MSC ships away from the strike hit Termont Terminal in Montreal on 3 August, Hapag-Lloyd has also diverted its Mediterranean Canada service away from the troubled port.
The Hapag-Lloyd operated Detroit Express and Toronto Express will no longer call at Montreal in an effort to maintain the schedule integrity.
Hapag-Lloyd issued a statement that said: “Due to the continuing labour disruptions in Montreal the decision has been taken to divert the Mediterranean Canada (MCA) Service.”
Two vessels will be immediately affected;
- Detroit Express 40W29 / 41E32 will now divert to DP World Terminal at Saint John New Brunswick. ETA is 8th August 08:00.
- Toronto Express 23W30 / 23E32 on the AT2 service will maintain her original call to Montreal, Cast Terminal. ETA is 5th August 15:00.
MGT Terminals have agreed to continue receiving exports for the Toronto Express but limited to dry containers only, no Reefers.