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Montreal longshore union and port employers to resume negotiations

Longshoremen and employers at the port of Montreal  have agreed to resume negotiations tomorrow although the port workers today began a 40-hour strike at the two terminals of Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership (MGT) at 3 pm that is to last until Saturday at 6.59 am.

The strike action by the union, CUPE Local 375, affects the Racine and Cast terminals operated by MGT, but not two container terminals operated by Termont and Bikerdike Terminal operated by Empire Stevedoring. Neither are the other general cargo and bulk terminals affected at a port which posted a record total container cargo of 1.7 million TEUs in 2019.

Working conditions, including scheduling, are reported to be a key issue in the prolonged negotiations.

The Maritime Employers Association, and the companies it represents, expressed “disappointment” that the union representing 1,100 dockers “decided to maintain the strike despite the ongoing negotiations. “All precautions were taken to ensure that the activities at the Port of Montreal will not be affected by the picket lines.”

At the start of the strike, one Hapag-Lloyd vessel, the Genoa Express, was at berth at the Racine terminal and was not expected to be unloaded on schedule. Another Hapag-Lloyd ship was expected to arrive on Saturday.

The previous collective agreement between the MEA and longshore workers expired on December 31, 2018. On several occasions since then, the union’s membership voted in favour of a strike but held back to pursue negotiations. The decision to take a job action this week follows a ruling earlier this month by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) denying the request of the MEA to designate port services as “essential services” that could be interrupted by a strike or lockout.