Port of Montreal longshoremen march to protest back-to-work legislation on May Day

As has become the tradition over the past several years, workers marched through the streets of Montreal on Saturday afternoon to mark May Day.

The Port of Montreal Longshoremen's Union will open the march, as they feel their right to strike has been curtailed by the adoption of a special law forcing them back to work by the federal government.

"We are happy to march with our brothers and sisters on this International Workers' Day despite the fact that it is a very sad day for union members in this country," said Michel Murray, union advisor and spokesperson for the Longshoremen's Union (CUPE 375) in a statement issued prior to the demonstration.

"Clearly, we have a long way to go since workers' rights can be so easily trampled," he added.

For its part, the Montreal May Day Coalition said it had also arranged for its members to meet at Place Charles de Gaulle, in La Fontaine Park, to demand that workers' mental health be better protected.

According to this coalition, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers have demonstrated the need for "recognition of psychological illness".

The coalition also calls for "better support for victims of work-related injuries and illnesses."

The minimum wage in Quebec increased by 40 cents to $13.50 an hour as of Saturday, May 1. The minimum wage for tipped workers is $10.80 an hour, up 35 cents. However, many unions say this is not enough to lift people out of poverty.

According to government statistics, 287,000 people earn the minimum wage in Quebec, more than half of whom are women.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2021.

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