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Port of Montreal reacts to notice of unlimited general strike by longshoremen


Montreal – The dockworkers’ union CUPE Local 375 having sent a notice of an unlimited general strike effective Monday to the Maritime Employers Association (MEA), the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) deplores a situation that will seriously and tangibly impact the local population and SMEs due to a total shutdown of port operations for an indefinite period of time. The situation actually starts today, given the partial strike already underway for the weekend.

The unlimited general strike starting Monday will result in the indefinite shutdown of a public infrastructure that serves millions of Quebecers and Canadians. The MPA handles $275 million worth of goods every day, ranging from agri-food products, pharmaceuticals and construction equipment to flagship products exported by local companies. A recent economic study found that a disruption of port activities incurs a loss of $10 million to $25 million per day for the economy. Please note that the uncertainty related to this labour dispute, which has been going on for months, has already taken a real toll. Notably, shipping lines have been rerouting certain vessels to competing ports.

“The Port of Montreal is a strategic infrastructure that serves import and export companies as well as the citizens of Quebec and the rest of Canada. This new work stoppage hinders the key role that port operations play in the economic recovery and will have a significant and very concrete impact on the population and SMEs here,” said Martin Imbleau, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Montreal Port Authority. “We’re talking about raw materials for our factories, computers for working from home and fresh exotic fruits that can no longer get to our docks, and maple syrup and pork from Quebec producers that can no longer be distributed around the world via the Port of Montreal. So, it’s urgent that the two parties come to an agreement.”

In recent days, leading provincial and national business associations have again sounded the alarm in joint statements. Also, according to a new survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, close to a third of Canadian SMEs said that a second strike would have negative repercussions on their business. In Quebec, 53% of entrepreneurs were apprehensive about the effects.

Major impacts

In the recent partial strike episode, after a single weekend of stoppage, the impact was already significant: close to 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) grounded, a backlog and delays in rail convoys, and shipping lines with vessels en route to Montreal obliged to rework their logistics.

Bear in mind that the episodes totalling 19 days of strike action in the summer of 2020 had significant effects on the economy, and 20 vessels had to be diverted. In total, 80,000 TEUs containing goods we consume every day were either diverted to competing ports or grounded.

According to the Logistics and Transportation Metropolitan Cluster of Montreal, CargoM, the 6,300+ transportation and logistics companies in Greater Montreal that support port operations are also directly affected by a strike at the Port.

Disruption of several port services

The 72-hour notice filed this morning calls for a general strike of unlimited duration by dockworkers effective Monday, April 26, resulting in the total cessation of cargo handling and docking services normally provided by dockworkers in the Port of Montreal’s terminals. Note that since a partial strike is already underway, there will be no service during the weekend prior to the unlimited general strike.

Liquid bulk handling, Oceanex service (Bickerdike Terminal) and the grain terminal (Viterra) will not be affected by this situation.