Strikers at Canada’s Busiest Port Have Halted Operations
On Tuesday morning, Canada’s federal government tabled a bill to end the strike of 1,150 workers at the Port of Montreal, impose arbitration, and fine for non-compliance with the new law.
The 1,150 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local (CUPE) 375 called for strike on Monday after the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) changed their work schedules. As a result most cargo operations at the port have shut down.
The legislation would require employees to return to work and would extend their previous collective agreement until a new one is negotiated. Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi said last week that she was willing to legislate the return to work if negotiations went poorly.
A mediation took place on Monday, but the union said the government’s announcement of possible legislation affectively caused the MEA to hold back on reaching a deal.
The dock workers have been without a contract since 2018. The current dispute was triggered when port employers reduced regular schedules. The details of the strike have been confidential but the general issue at hand includes working conditions and work-life balance.
The MEA says it needs more flexibility from its workers to adapt to the changes at the port. The strike has halted operations at one of the country’s largest ports and threatened the already strained supply chain due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms. Tassi said in a series of tweets that the legislation is the government’s “least favorite option.”
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