By Leo Ryan, Editor
By a 99.7% majority, the members of the union representing 1,125 longhoremen at the Port of Montreal today rejected the latest formal offer on March 12 from the Maritime Employers Association to renew a collective agreement which expired on December 31, 2018.
But CUPE 375 leader Michael Murray did not announce immediate plans to revive work stoppages as occurred last summer, but invited the port employers to return to the negotiating table. While the dockers held their vote Sunday, most operations at Canada’s second biggest port were halted. This vote coincided with the last day of a seven-month armistice.
Responding to the union vote and invitation, the MEA reiterated that its “priority remains a quick settlement.” This appeared to suggest agreement not to abandon negotiations.
“We took notice of our unionized employees vote, “the MEA said. “We would have preferred a vote in favour of the offer submitted, but we acknowledge the union’s wish to follow through the negotiations.
“We are now assessing all our options and our priority remains a quick settlement. At this stage, we will not comment.”
Working schedules are reported to be the single biggest issue that has kept the two parties at loggerheads.
The prolonged waterfront conflict has induced some shippers to divert cargo amidst growing alarm from many business groups and political circlesin Quebec and Canada as well as among officials at the Port of Montreal which has major expansion plans to boost its competitiveness and handle growing container and other trade flows. (photo MPA)