Port of Montreal: weekend strike begins Saturday; parties in mediation

The weekend strike by longshore workers at the Port of Montreal will begin Saturday morning, adding to the overtime strike launched earlier this week.

The strike will take place on Saturdays and Sundays and will last indefinitely.

Discussions between the Maritime Employers Association and the Port of Montreal's 1150 longshore workers' union, though, have not yet broken down.

Representatives of both parties met on Thursday in the presence of three mediators already assigned to the file by the federal Department of Labour.

On Friday, the parties were meeting in their respective camps to do some work, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), affiliated with the FTQ, which represents these longshore workers.

This week, the CUPE local resumed its strike vote, given the time that has elapsed since the previous vote. And once again, the longshoremen voted 99.3 per cent in favour of the strike, with 1021 people exercising their right to vote.

The first strike vote was in December 2018. It has been repeated regularly since then.

Earlier this week, six employer associations had made a joint public outing to increase pressure, calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's personal intervention, even if it means passing special legislation to end the dispute.

But the federal government prefers to let the parties reach a negotiated settlement, using all the tools at their disposal to facilitate dialogue. Three mediators have already been assigned to the file.

The partial strike was announced by the union last Sunday after the Maritime Employers Association announced it would reduce the terms and conditions of pay for longshoremen.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2021.

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