By Leo Ryan
In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, the Maritime Employers Association publicly disclosed, in a full-page ad in The Montreal Gazette and La Presse+ today, the details of its offer for a new collective agreement that was overwhelmingly rejected on March 21 by the Port of Montreal’s longshoremen. The vote by the unionized 1,125 dockers represented by CUPE 375 was held the same day that a seven-month truce expired in the bitter, prolonged conflict to replace the agreement that lapsed on December 31, 2018. Working schedules have been a leading issue.
“Do the longshoremen of the Maritime Employers Association really know what they are refusing?” runs an opening headline.
Under current working conditions, the average annual salary for a longshoreman was $120,000. Regular employees must be available to work 19 out of 21, and in 2020 they worked on average 16 days out of 21. Overtime is worked on a voluntary basis only.
Pension fund and insurance payments are fully covered by the employer.
All evening shifts are paid time and a half, while night and weekend shifts are paid double time.
All regular employees have a guaranteed wage. Depending on seniority, they are paid for between 32 and 40 hours per week – whether they work or not.
For an 8-hour paid shift, over 95% of employees work between 4 hours and 5 hours and 20 minutes in total.
For the 2019-2023 collective agreement, the MEA proposes annual salary increases of 2% for the first 3 years and of 2.5% for the following 2 years.
The hourly rate on day shift will move from $36.09 in 2018 to $40.24 in 2023. The double time rate will move from $72.18 per hour to $80.48 per hour.
To promote a better work-life balance, the MEA has proposed:
- Five additional weekend days off annually per employee.
- The possibility of exchanging shifts between employees.
- The creation of positions with fixed working hours from Monday to Friday, on the day and evening shifts.
- The creation of a joint committee for the reform of the work schedules.
- A 38% increase in the guaranteed wage for first reserve pool employees.
- More than 150 employees will see their guaranteed wage extended from 9 months to 12 months.
- A retirement bonus of $25,000 per employee for 50 employees.
- A 25% increase of the life insurance coverage for every employee reaching 65 years old.
(photo Port of Montreal)