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Port of Montreal longshore workers on strike again

Multiday walkout underway for second time this month

Canadian Union of Public Employees members are on strike at the Port of Montreal this week. (Photo: Port of Montreal)

Port of Montreal longshore workers have walked off the job again.

The Montreal Port Authority (MPA) braced for terminal delays or operations stoppages after the longshore members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) launched a four-day strike Monday morning.

“We have counted seven vessels that could experience direct impacts,” Melanie Nadeau, the MPA’s director of communications, said Tuesday. “Four are experiencing delays or have to change their navigation strategy. For the other three, we are waiting to see what they will do. But we are following the situation closely as it can evolve rapidly.” 

The Port of Montreal longshore workers earlier staged a 40-hour work stoppage that began July 2. That strike affected union workers at two port terminals, Cast and Racine. Seventeen other terminals remained operational.

CUPE had been in negotiations with the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) on behalf of its 1,125 longshore workers — heavy machinery operators, signalers, ship handlers, electricians and mechanics.

CBC reported this walk-off was staged to draw attention to working hours. 

“The current system consists of working 19 consecutive days out of 21, 365 days a year, apart from public holidays and those when the port is closed,” union spokesman Michel Murray told CBC.

“The employer has removed the work-life balance part that we were looking for,” he told CBC.

The MPA’s Nadeau referred to a statement on the Port of Montreal’s website that says this strike will not affect liquid bulk handling, the Oceanex service at Bickerdike Terminal and the Viterra grain terminal.

But the union’s “pressure tactics” are affecting some services, it said. 

“There will be a suspension of mooring services usually provided by longshoremen and cargo-handling services at the Port of Montreal terminals during this four-day period,” the MPA said, adding that “necessary efforts will be made to make up for the delays caused by this exceptional situation.”

“The Montreal Port Authority is concerned about this situation as port activities are essential to keep the economy running smoothly and, in some cases, to ensure public health and safety,” it said. “A prolonged stop or slowdown in port operations is unwelcome, not only for the logistics and supply chain but also for the businesses and citizens who benefit from the movement of goods. We are therefore closely monitoring the situation and hope that the stevedores’ employer, the Maritime Employers Association, and the syndicate will be able to reach an agreement quickly.”

The longshoremen are slated to resume work at 7 a.m. Friday.

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Click for more FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.