The longshore union’s collective agreement expired on December 31, 2018. (photo CUPE 375)
Echoing growing calls from the business community, the Quebec and Ontario governments have sent a letter to Ottawa urging the federal government to intervene in the latest Montreal dock strike, which entered its second week Monday. Negotiations between the longshore union and the Maritime Employers Association are at an impasse to replace a collective agreement which expired on December 31, 2018.
If the conflict lingers much longer, the shutdown will harm Eastern Canada’s economy and erode the competitiveness of a port that generates $2.6 billion in annual economic activity, according to the joint letter from four provincial cabinet ministers.
“This situation comes on top of an economic crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic which is already having negative effects on many companies needing to import and export via port facilities,” Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet said.
Ontario Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli and Labour Minister Monte McNaughton stressed the Montreal port’s crucial role for a province that has no direct access to large container ships.
Last week, federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains rejected a request from industry groups to force the resumption of port activities and impose binding arbitration, citing “faith in the collective bargaining process.”
The ministers stressed that the activities at the Port of Montreal “represent 19,000 direct and indirect jobs and are at the heart of an economic ecosystem involving Canadian importers and exporters, including 6,300 transport and logistics companies.”