The Port of Montreal longshore workers’ union, CUPE 375, announced yesterday that all but three of its members voted to reject a final contract offer made recently by the Maritime Employers Association.
Despite the overwhelming 99.71% rejection of MEA’s offer, the union says it “does not intend, for the moment, to send a strike notice,” a mandatory step to trigger a work stoppage.
In a press release, the union said port workers “also voted 98% symbolically to ask the employer to return to the bargaining table.” To facilitate this, mediators would be contacted immediately, it vowed. “Our objective is to return to the table to reach a negotiated agreement,” according to union advisor Michel Murray.
Referring to the voluntary media blackout during the seven-month truce, Murray also said the union looked forward to correcting “several falsehoods that have been conveyed by employers’ organizations in the public space during this time.”
Strike Fears Raised
The Montreal Port Authority recently warned that another strike “could cause major delays in the supply chain and higher freight costs, right as the economic recovery and a broader reopening of the retail sector in Quebec and Ontario get underway.”
Looking to avoid that outcome, the Quebec Trucking Association is now urging the federal government “to intervene without delay and to position itself that a shutdown of activities at the Port of Montreal will not be tolerated.” The group called specifically on Labour Minister Filomena Tassi to “send a clear signal by mobilizing all the actors and levers necessary for the resolution of this conflict.”
In the event of another strike, most vessels will likely be diverted to the Port of Halifax, as was the case during last year’s work stoppage. The port has already seen a surge of incoming containers in the past week compared with Montreal, according to industry data.