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MEA pledges not to use replacement workers for COVID-related cargo

The Maritime Employers Association (MEA) has announced it will not resort to using replacement workers for handling some 477 containers currently identified as COVID-related from the Port of Montreal in midst of a docker strike that has entered its 11th day.

In a statement, the MEA said that an agreement was made with the longshore union, CUPE 365, “to meet in order to evaluate the contents of the containers to be moved” and that “no replacement workers will be used.”

Yesterday, MEA President Michel Tessier urged the unionized dockers to move containers deemed to contain essential merchandise. But the union felt he had left the door open to deploying replacement workers – an alleged threat subsequently withdrawn. The union has also affirmed from the outset of the work stoppage that any COVID-related cargo can leave the port.

“If there are four containers of Coco Chanel perfume that are due to Québec, those four containers will remain at the terminal,” union leader Michel Murray said Wednesday.

 In a new development early this afternoon (Thursday), the MEA announced: “The Maritime Employers Association and the Longshoremen’s Union have agreed to move containers that contain controlled substances and COVID-19-related merchandise, and to unload a ship containing sugar.  Containers of refrigerated products are still subject to discussions and a mutual decision will be made shortly.”

The two sides remain deadlocked in negotiations to conclude a collective agreement replacing the one which expired on December 31, 2018. Scheduling and wages remain the biggest issues to be resolved.

Earlier this week, the union proposed a 60-day truce with resumption of negotiations. But a counter-offer by the MEA entailing an “obligation of result” was turned down by the union representing 1,125 dock workers. (photo MPA)