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Home » Ports » Port of Montreal closed by strike: “Taking the economy hostage.”

Port of Montreal closed by strike: “Taking the economy hostage.”

PortandTerminal.com, August 11, 2020

“The effects of a prolonged strike on Montreal’s and Quebec’s economy will be devastating,” stated Montreal Board of Trade president Michel Leblanc.

MONTREAL — Canada’s labour minister has rejected requests to intervene in a strike launched Monday by Port of Montreal workers.

“We have faith in the collective bargaining process, as we know the best deals are made at the table,” Filomena Tassi said in a statement.

“Our government’s clear expectation is for both parties to work together to resolve their differences quickly. We will be monitoring the situation closely, and looking into how to support the ongoing mediation efforts.”

Tassi said federal mediation teams have met with both parties on many occasions since the collective agreements expired Dec. 31, 2018, and continue to be present and available.

Earlier, five groups that represent Quebec’s private sector called on Ottawa to intervene to force the resumption of port activities because the strike is “taking the economy hostage.”

“The effects of a prolonged strike on Montreal’s and Quebec’s economy will be devastating,” stated Montreal Board of Trade president Michel Leblanc.

“With every passing day, the strike will further slow the recovery of our economy. We will lose opportunities for future growth. There is a risk that the ships that are taking Montreal off their routes today will not be coming back.”

An article published by JOC (paywall) suggests that 50% of Montreal’s cargo volume is Discretionary – shippers are not tied to the port, and use it for convenience sake.

Nearly 6,300 transport companies rely on the port, which creates 19,000 jobs, according to the port’s administration.

The longshore worker’s union failed to reach an agreement with the Maritime Employers Association despite discussions that continued until early Monday morning.

The union said the port-wide strike relates to scheduling and wage conditions.

The employers association said it believes the solution lies in a truce that would result in binding arbitration if no agreement is reached after two months.

The strike shut down activity at Canada’s second-largest port with the exception of grain transport and shipments to Newfoundland and Labrador.

FILE PHOTO: Filomena Tassi, Canadian Minister of Labour, has said that the government will not intervene at this time to end the strike.

Tassi said the government understands the importance of the port and its workers to the Canadian economy.

She and Transport Minister Marc Garneau have told the parties to focus on reaching an agreement and avoid further disruption.

The labour action by more than 1,100 longshore workers comes after a series of temporary strikes by the Canadian Union of Public Employees over the past six weeks saw several ships diverted to ports in Halifax, New York City and Saint John, N.B.

With content from the Canadian Press (CP)

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