The Trudeau government gave notice on Sunday that it will table back-to-work legislation in response to an imminent strike at the Port of Montreal that threatens to cause significant economic disruption across the country.
In a tweet, federal labour minister Filomena Tassi said that forcing the resumption of operations at the Port of Montreal is the government’s “least favoured option,” but the action was deemed necessary in order to prevent serious national economic harm.
The union representing longshore workers on Friday had announced a general unlimited strike at all port facilities, including the Contrecoeur terminal, effective Monday, April 26, 2021, at 7:00 AM.
The announcement came less than two weeks after beginning a partial strike that, according to a statement by the port authority, has already had a significant negative impact on operations. The sudden escalation was apparently in reaction to an announcement last week by the Maritime Employers’ Association that it intended to make changes to the longshore workers’ schedules starting April 26.
The workers, who have been without a contract since December 2018, have been on an overtime strike since April 17 and have refused to work weekends since April 18.
Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon had previously called on Ottawa to intervene, stopping a strike that he said would paralyze the province’s economy.
On Sunday, Fitzgibbon said on Twitter that he supports the federal government’s move, but expressed hope that the two sides would manage to negotiate an agreement without the need for legislation.