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“Planned provocation” deepens Montreal strike crisis

After a period of more than 30 years without striking the latest group of Montreal dockers, Local 1657 of the International Association of Longshoremen (ILA), also known as Checkers, have given notice that they intend to strike to the Maritime Employers Association (MEA).

Dock workers from the ILA will join other striking longshoremen who began their industrial action on 27 July and will continue their action through to 31 July. Up to 175 ILA dockers will strike from Friday 31 July at 6am and will return to work on 1 August 1 at 7am. Local 1657 represents 150 members and 25 reserve pool members.

Union officials claimed that the MEA announced last week that it was removing job security provisions from the collective agreement, “leaving many employees without pay”.

Ian Mulcahy, president of Local 1657 of the ILA damned the move as a " planned act of provocation,” saying that it, “clearly demonstrates the MEA's lack of respect for union members and their negotiated rights."

According to unions, negotiations with the MEA have reached an “impasse”, with the employer’s organisation implementing technology that will see job losses.

"The Maritime Employers Association which represents terminal operators has refused to recognise and negotiate many clauses affecting job security and the jurisdiction of our members' duties," said Mulcahy.

In addition, the ILA claimed that a number of clauses, including schedules and hours of work, remain unresolved and prevent the parties from reaching an agreement to renew the collective agreement, which expired at the end of 2018.

“The women and men of ILA Local 1657 worked seven days a week to maintain the supply chain during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic risking their health and safety and that of their family,” recalls. Mulcahy.

Tensions were raised yesterday when the unions claimed that a terminal operator had used scab labour to move cargo.

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